Back to Work: On (or Off) Site?

In May, Willis Towers Watson conducted research into 681 large U.S. employers representing over 7 million workers. The results show that employers expect the percentage of their full-time workforce who work from home (WFH) to be three times larger after the pandemic than before it began. Respondents said that just over half (53%) of their full-time employees are currently working remotely. That percentage is expected to drop to 22% after the pandemic passes but would still be up significantly from the 7% recorded before the emergence of COVID-19.

Gartner Group research reinforces the anticipated growth in remote work. According to Gartner, 74% of CFOs plan to shift at least 5 percent of their employees to remote work permanently. Nearly 25% will shift more than 20% of their workers to remote positions.

The Willis Towers Watson survey also indicated that 74% of companies are making a series of workplace changes to their facilities as well as practices and policies. To accommodate social distancing, protocol changes include touchless payment systems, virtual services rather than in person, more physical space between workers and modified work schedules to limit employee contact.

A study conducted by the Harris Poll in early May found that 72% of over 1,100 employed U.S. adults said they are ready to return to their company’s office, and 45% expect to return to their company’s office in some capacity this summer. Socializing with co-workers was cited as the primary motivation for wishing to return to their office of 52% of respondents, with 46% looking forward to collaborating in person. According to the Harris poll, 79% of respondents expect their employer to provide disinfectant or hand sanitizer. Over half want to see mask and glove requirements in the office, 45% expect their employer to space out workstations at least six feet from co-workers, and 38% want employee temperature checks initiated.

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