Americans may be reluctant to jump right back into the workplace as the economy comes back online. That’s what Provo-based Qualtrics, a marketer of customer experience management products, found in a recent survey titled “Return to Work & Back to Business Study.”
As government and business leaders look to reopen the economy, Qualtrics asked more than 2,000 Americans how confident they felt about returning to the workplace or visiting public establishments right now — and what it would take for them to feel comfortable doing so.
“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,” said Mike Maughan, head of global insights at Qualtrics. “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.”
The study was conducted on Qualtrics CoreXM, a platform where organizations can manage and take action on experience data of their customers.
The survey found that two out of three people (66 percent) are not comfortable going back to the workplace right now. In fact, workers of all ages — from boomers to Gen Z — are equally wary about returning to shared workspaces, with more than 65 percent in every age group reporting that they were uncomfortable doing so. Most employees want assurance from public health officials like the Centers for Disease Control (63 percent) or the World Health Organization (45 percent) to feel comfortable returning to the workplace.
A quarter of America’s employees (25 percent) expect to return to the workplace sometime in May, while 28 percent believe they’ll be going back in June. Nearly half (48 percent) don’t expect to return to work until August or later.
Once they go back to work, workers will feel more comfortable if measures are taken to protect themselves and their coworkers. Nearly two-thirds (64 percent) want to be able to wear a mask at work while 61 percent want to maintain social distancing. Half say they want more flexible sick-leave policies, 49 percent want to be able to limit the number of people they’re exposed to in workplace meetings and want their temperatures checked before entering the building.
And work isn’t the only place people will want to exercise caution. Sixty-eight percent of respondents say they would feel uncomfortable playing a team sport, 60 percent say they wouldn’t want to attend a religious service and 51 percent say they would still feel uncomfortable going to a retail store.
Of those who regularly attend live concerts, 26 percent say they are unlikely to return in the foreseeable future and 24 percent of those who attend sporting events say the same.
Though restaurants have begun to partially reopen as states do the same, 68 percent of people say they would feel uncomfortable eating at a restaurant right now and 16 percent say they’re unlikely to dine in at all in the foreseeable future.
When it comes to transit, 77 percent of people feel uncomfortable taking public transit right now and 75 percent feel uncomfortable flying on an airplane.