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COVID-19 pandemic: Most people uneasy about returning to work, survey finds

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Salt Lake City — Results of a recent survey show that 2 out of 3 people aren’t comfortable about going back to their workplace as the COVID-19 pandemic lingers – a finding that spans all generations of workers.

Software company Qualtrics on April 27-28 surveyed more than 2,000 people in the United States on how confident they felt about returning to their workplace or visiting public establishments, and what it would take for them to feel comfortable doing so.

From baby boomers to Generation Z, more than 65% of respondents in each age group reported being wary about returning. Overall, the respondents were almost evenly split on whether “things will get back to normal,” with 52% answering yes and 48% saying no. Around 1 out of 4 respondents expected to return to work in May, 28% expected to return in June, and 31% expected to return in August or later.

Other findings:

  • 69% of the respondents trust their employer to make the best decision on when they should return to work.
  • 74% want their work facility to be thoroughly and regularly cleaned and disinfected.
  • 63% want assurance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it’s OK to return.
  • 62% want employers to set strict policies on who can come into the workplace (e.g., barring anyone who is sick or has recently traveled).
  • 57% want facemasks to be made available.
  • More than 60% want the options to maintain physical distancing of at least 6 feet at work and wear a mask.

“While most organizations are looking at facts like hospitalization and testing rates as they reopen workplaces and businesses, it is equally important to understand perceptions – how people feel,” Mike Maughan, head of global insights at Qualtrics, said in a May 5 press release. “Our study found that most Americans still feel uncomfortable returning to public spaces. Organizations will need to know what actions they can take to help customers and employees feel confident during this next phase of the pandemic.”

 

On April 23, the National Safety Council launched SAFER: Safe Actions for Employee Returns, a comprehensive, multifaceted effort to guide employers through the process of safely resuming traditional work and operations in a post-COVID-19 environment.

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