This week saw the beginning of the COVID-19 vaccines being rolled out across multiple locations both in the UK, and across the world. As individuals eagerly await the much-anticipated return ‘back to normality’, the vaccine finally bring around a halt to the work-from-home lifestyle that millions have adjusted to since the first lockdown in March.
However, for many, the vaccine is not likely to suddenly grant assurance that they must return full 5 working day weeks in the office. According to a survey conducted by US Pew Research Centre this week, over half of US workers claim that they would prefer to keep their remote working arrangements beyond the vaccine’s rollout.
According to the survey taken from 6,000 workers’ responses, one-third claims they wanted remote options to be offered sometimes, while only 11% said that they rarely or never want to work from home.
The most highly cited reasons for preferring remote working included increased flexibility, as well as worrying about getting unwell. Further reasons included childcare concerns, work access restrictions and some have since even relocated away from their work sites,
A survey further conducted by the University of Chicago found that those who expressed a reluctance to return to the office, a strong 70%, saw the commute as majorly off-putting. The COVID-19 virus has seen an absolute fear of close proximity to others, and crowded trains, buses and lifts do not always allow for social distancing to be in place.
Interestingly, the majority in these surveys who cited a response in wanting to return to the office reported that when working remotely they were less able to stay motivated and on task. Reasons for this include a lack of adequate social interaction, lack of commute, diminished job security and difficulties with childcare demands.
It appears that despite the vaccine rollout, companies have begun to accept that homogenous work habits, the 5 days of the 9-5 grind are over. The future of office work is likely to become hybrid. A mix of remote and in-office working, with workers relaying through a rolling rota so that some forms of social distancing can at least be put in place. COVID-19 has redefined the office working life, and for many, it appears this comes with great positives.