Here’s How Americans Working Remotely Really Feel About Going Back to the Office

Katie Abel

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As coronavirus cases surge in many states this week, many Americans are grappling with their feelings about returning to the office.

In a new Civic Science survey that polled about 3,000 U.S. adults, 46% said they weren’t comfortable going back to work until a coronavirus vaccine is available. But about 44% of respondents said they were comfortable heading in before a vaccine is in place.

Notably, the results vary by gender, age and income levels.

U.S. adults with annual incomes of $50,000 or less are the most likely to be “very uncomfortable” returning, while those with incomes of $150,000 or more are the most likely to be “very comfortable.”

In addition, Civic Science found that men are about 20% more likely than women to prefer resuming a normal work situation. And younger adults ages 18 to 24 are the most eager to go back to the office, with 42% responding they would like to return.

When it comes to productivity, about half of those polled said they had been just as productive at home as they were when they were physically at work.

Already, many big employers have made the decision to allow employees to stay remote through the end of the year or longer. Spotify and American Express, for example, are permitting staff to stay put for the remainder of 2020.

Apple said yesterday it was unlikely there would be a full return to the office this year as the company shuts down stores again in highly impacted areas.

Tech giants Facebook and Twitter have gone a step further — and both announced they would shift to a more permanent remote work system, at least for some employees.

But the arrangement isn’t suitable for everyone. In-person contact is critical for many jobs, and it can be particularly hard to manage employees over Zoom or the phone. Plus, an office environment fuels team building and communication, which can be difficult to replicate from afar.

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