Survey: Most workers back in the office don’t feel safe

Just 17% of office workers still working remotely say they would feel safe returning, according to the survey by real estates services firm Clever. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Remote office workers contemplating a return to the office, or being mandated to do so, may not be encouraged by their co-workers who already have, or who never left the office in the first place.

“Most people don’t feel super safe in an office right now,” said Francesca Ortegren, at real estate services firm Clever. “Only 24% of people currently working in an office environment feel safe. A lot of office workers are worried about their own health and their family’s health. And working in the office is making people feel anxious and just generally uncomfortable.”

Clever’s survey included more than 1,000 office workers, both those in the office and those still working remotely.

Those still at home are even more concerned about the office environment, with 17% saying they would feel safe returning. The majority of current remote workers cite worries about their health as their top concern about returning.

Much of the concern, according to the survey, could be addressed by employers, with 56% of respondents saying they don’t think their company is taking appropriate safety measures regarding COVID-19.

The overwhelming majority of remote workers — 80% — say they’d feel more comfortable returning to the office if certain precautions were taken.

Mask mandates and access to sanitizer top the list of expectations, but other expectations are not extraordinary.

“People really expect just minimal stuff to go back to the office. They are in line with CDC guidelines. Office cleaning each evening. Properly distanced desks. And things like temperature and symptoms checks each morning,” Ortegren said.

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Only 34% of those surveyed want employers to require proof of COVID-19 vaccination for all workers.

Those who are returning to the office aren’t necessarily doing so because they want to. The majority of those surveyed said they have already or plan to return to the office because their employer is requiring it or because their job requires it.

Newly approved vaccines have many expecting to go back to the officer sooner than later, with 60% anticipating a return by the second quarter of 2021. But 29% of those currently working remotely intend to continue doing so after the pandemic has passed.

The Clever survey was conducted Dec. 11 and included answers of up to 20 questions. The full survey results are posted online.

Below are responses to what office workers expect from their employers to make the office environment comfortable:

Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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