Study: 59% of U.S. Remote Workers Worried About Safety at Office

As the United States’ vaccination rollout continues, millions of American workers are expected to return to their office desks this summer. But for many of them, workplace safety remains a big concern.

Results of a national online survey, conducted by edtech firm MindEdge Learning, show 59 percent of those who have not yet returned to the workplace are concerned they will be required to come back before it is safe to do so. MindEdge’s second annual survey on remote work, The State of Remote Work 2021The Age of the Hybrid Workplace, found that concerns about workplace safety are most pronounced in the technology (78 percent) and health care (67 percent) sectors.

At the same time, vaccine mandates appear to be finding favor among many businesses. A full 40 percent of survey respondents have been told they must be vaccinated in order to return to work, while only 14 percent have been told that vaccinations will not be required.

Many companies also are embracing the hybrid work model, under which workers divide their work time between home and office. Just under half (49 percent) of survey respondents say their companies will institute a hybrid work schedule in 2021 and, on average, workers say they would like to spend 3.3 days per week in their office or place of work.

Only 24 percent say they would like to work in their office or place of work all five days. Roughly the

In general, workers do not express strong reservations about adapting to the hybrid work model. When asked to choose from a pre-selected list of concerns about hybrid work arrangements, fully 37 percent say they have no concerns whatsoever. Of those who do express some concern, the top worries are missing out on camaraderie with colleagues – 20 percent – and being less productive at work – 17 percent.

Neither are workers concerned that choosing to work remotely may cost them a chance at a raise or promotion. Only 33 percent of survey respondents say that workers who do not work remotely will do better, in terms of raises and promotions, than those who choose to work remotely. Two-of-five say it won’t make a difference, and 15 percent think that remote workers will actually do better than those who don’t work remotely.

Perhaps significantly, members of management are more likely– 39 percent – to say that remote workers will come up short, in terms of raises and promotions.

A year into the nation’s remote-work experiment, workers’ reactions are decidedly mixed. Thirty-seven percent of survey respondents feel that remote work has had a negative effect on their mental health, while nearly a quarter – 24 percent – feel working remotely has had a positive effect on their mental health.

Compared to the results of MindEdge’s 2020 survey, State of Remote Work 2020: The Age of the Pandemic, respondents in this year’s survey are somewhat more upbeat about the effect of remote work on their job situations. Just under two-of-five say working remotely has made their jobs easier, up from 26 percent last year. One-of-four say working remotely has made their jobs harder, down slightly from 30 percent in 2020. In both years, a substantial number of respondents said working remotely had made their jobs easier and more difficult.