OfficeSpace Survey: 71 Percent of Employed Americans Eager to Return to the Office

Offices might look and feel different over the course of the next year, with many employees indicating that personal safety is their chief concern with regard to returning to the workplace. Former common areas may be transformed into smaller pod areas for individual use, according to an article recently featured on REBusinessOnline by Steve Kimball of emersion Design.

ATLANTA — The trend of working remotely swept the nation as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic this year. While some are relishing the opportunity to test drive their home offices, a large number of Americans are ready to return to the workplace.

According to a recent survey of employed Americans commissioned by OfficeSpace Software, 71 percent of respondents currently working from home are eager to move back to the office once it is safe to do so. Over 70 percent indicated that they feel more engaged and more productive in the office, and 80 percent indicated that they miss in-person collaboration with their coworkers.

The novelty of virtual meeting programs like Zoom — a boon for keeping colleagues connected during the pandemic — has also worn thin, with 57 percent of respondents indicating that they are tired of meeting through video.

The survey, which was conducted online by The Harris Poll in early December, canvassed 1,206 employed U.S. adults above the age of 18. Fewer than half of the respondents indicated that they are going into the workplace each day, with 17 percent having returned to their offices on a staggered schedule.

Safety First

While many are ready to return to a traditional office environment, 54 percent of those polled indicated that they would consider leaving their job if their employer required them to return before they felt comfortable. And while the rollout of the COVID-19 vaccine has begun, 26 percent said that it would have no impact on their confidence in safely returning to the office.

“The safe return to the workplace remains uncertain for businesses and employees alike,” says David Cocchiara, CEO of Atlanta-based OfficeSpace. “The common thread we see is that most aren’t ready to return until there are a clear variety of safety measures in place.”

“Hand sanitizer, masks and social distancing are table stakes,” he continues. “Companies that embrace technology to help them prepare for the new dynamic workplace will find they have happier and more engaged employees who feel safe and comfortable.”

In addition to masks, hand sanitizer and social distancing, the top three safety measures noted by respondents to impact the level of comfort they would feel returning to the workplace were: 

  • limited or reduced capacity in the office (40 percent); 
  • required online health screenings for employees before coming into the office (36 percent); 
  • and the elimination of in-person meetings (32 percent).

Along with restricted in-person interaction, the use of technological tools like a visual directory and automated room booking at hotels were noted as helpful measures for keeping employees safe through the course of the pandemic. 

Though our offices might look different in 2021, it is clear that employees are ready to return when the time comes and they feel their personal safety is assured. 

Katie Sloan 

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