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Study Gauges The New Workplace Norm As Result Of Pandemic
May 01, 2020
Photo credit: Gustavo Fring/Pexels

As we enter month two of the Coronavirus pandemic gripping the nation, global staffing firm Robert Half surveyed more than 1,000 professionals about their current work situation as telecommuting and shelter-in-place restrictions have become the norm.
"Our lives have changed as a result of COVID-19, including how we work," said Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half. "When companies open their doors again, 'business as usual' will be different. Employers and their teams have been resourceful in operating from dispersed locations, and there are going to be important lessons learned that will guide future collaboration."
Of employees surveyed, 77% said they are currently working from home. These workers were asked, "Which of the following positive sentiments have you felt with respect to your job in the past several weeks?" and the top responses included:
►I realize my job is doable from home: 63%
►My work-life balance has improved due to lack of a commute: 60%
►I'm more comfortable using technology: 43%
►I've grown closer to colleagues: 20%
►I've grown closer to my boss: 19%
Parents doing their job from home were more likely than peers without children to report having better work-life balance, becoming more tech savvy and deepening relationships with their colleagues, survey results show. In addition, 78% of all employees surveyed think they will be more prepared to support or cover for coworkers who need to be physically absent when staff begin returning to the office.
According to the research, professionals feel some apprehension about going back to their typical workspace:
►56% of professionals worry about being in close proximity to colleagues
►74% would like to work remotely more frequently than before the outbreak. More parents (79%) than those without children (68%) expressed this preference
►55% believe it will be more difficult to build strong relationships with colleagues if teams aren't in the same building as much
Once stay-at-home guidelines ease, the workplace will likely evolve. Of office professionals surveyed:
►72% will rethink shaking hands with business contacts
►72% plan to schedule fewer in-person meetings
►61% anticipate spending less time in common areas in the office
►Nearly 60% will reconsider attending in-person business events (59%) and traveling for business (57%)
►73% think there will be fewer in-person social and team-building activities with colleagues
Workers were also asked, "As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, which of the following measures do you think your company needs to take?" Their responses included:
►Allow employees to work from home more frequently: 79%
►Have better cleaning procedures: 79%
►Hold fewer in-person meetings and trainings: 70%
►Stagger employees' work schedules: 55%
►Require employees to wear masks: 52%
►Change the office layout: 46%
"Managers should use any time of transition to reassess priorities and make meaningful change that improves the work environment,” said McDonald. “The pandemic is causing fear and anxiety, and employees will want reassurance their employer is prioritizing health and safety."
The online survey was developed by Robert Half and conducted by an independent research firm from April 17-22, 2020. It includes responses from more than 1,000 workers 18 years of age or older and normally employed in office environments in the United States.

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