I’m Not Going Back to the Office

Coronavirus (COVID-19) HR Management & Compliance leadership workplace

A new survey has found what many of us suspected: A large percentage of the workforce does not want to go back to their office. So many have worked from home for a few months now, and they see no reason they shouldn’t continue working from home.


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The survey was conducted by getAbstract and sought to understand something simple: Will employees want to return home when the pandemic ends? I think some employers are hoping that being trapped at home will make employees want to come back to the office.

Sadly for them, only 12% said their time at home has made them want to go back to the office environment. Forty-three percent said they would want to work remotely more often going forward, and another 35% said they would be OK with going back to their formal schedule.

It should be added that 8% of respondents indicated they had already been working remotely full time. That number is staggeringly low when you consider that some estimates put current work-from-home rates at 50%.

Will Employers Remain Flexible?

Experts have been extolling the value of working from home for quite some time now, but it seems no one was ready to listen. The major factors have always been work/life balance and flexibility. Respondents were asked what they thought their workplace would be like with regard to flexibility after the epidemic is over.

Some remain positive that their workplace will allow more flexibility after COVID-19. Twenty percent indicated they were aware of discussions surrounding this topic among leadership and that it has been communicated to employees. Another 26% say they do expect more flexibility after COVID-19, but plans for that flexibility have not been communicated. The largest percentage, 31%, believe their organization was not flexible before and won’t be after either.

Why Do Employees Want to Work Remotely Full or Part Time?

Participants were asked why they want to work remotely all or part of the time after the pandemic is over. The top response by far—at 55%—was the desire not to have to commute. As someone who has been on a Manhattan-bound train at 7 a.m. on a weekday, I cannot stress this point enough. Other top responses included having a more flexible schedule (48%), being more productive (37%), and having more time with friends and family (34%).

Potential Downsides to Working from Home

Survey-takers were asked if they foresaw any downsides to working from home after COVID-19. The top response, given by 27%, was they would feel isolated. Another 20% said telecommuting technology doesn’t always work well, and 19% said it would be hard to feel connected to their company.

Final Thoughts

When this is all over and organizations start hiring all of those unemployed workers, remember that those employers that retain flexible arrangements will appear more attractive to candidates. You can view more of the results here.

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