Aug 26, 2021

New Workplace Study Reveals Growing Health Concerns, Preference for Hybrid Work Among U.S. Employees Who Have Returned to the Office

Nearly half did not have a choice about returning; Despite intensifying concerns around Delta, only 12% prefer to work from home exclusively
New Workplace Study Reveals Growing Health Concerns, Preference for Hybrid Work Among U.S. Employees Who Have Returned to the Office

SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Envoy, a workplace platform that helps teams manage hybrid work, released the results from its latest Return to the Workplace report. The study gauges sentiment among 1,000 employees who have returned to the workplace within the past year.

As COVID-19 cases continue to rise, many companies are wrestling with the decision to postpone reopenings, even as scores of office workers are already back in the workplace. The survey reveals that for those who didn't have a choice in their return (45%), the transition has been difficult, with 37% saying they are more stressed since returning. More than a third (35%) say they are more likely to want to leave their job compared to 18% of those who had a choice. Additionally, 51% of women compared to 40% of men feel they had no choice but to return.

However, given the option today, most professionals say they prefer to work from the office in some capacity. More than 70% say they would choose a hybrid work model, splitting work between in-office and home, while only 12% would prefer to work remotely every day.

“One major takeaway from these data points is that companies that demand a return to pre-pandemic ‘business as usual’ will fail. We need to earn our employees back,” said Larry Gadea, CEO and founder of Envoy. “COVID isn’t going anywhere -- people need to know that their health is the top priority. And leaders need to ask the hard questions about what’s working and what’s not, and then begin experimenting with technology solutions that make the work experience better.”

Other notable findings:

Overall stress levels remain steady.

  • More than half of employees (55%) feel their stress levels haven’t changed since going back into the office. Meanwhile, 27% report feeling more stressed and 18% say they feel less so. More than any other generation, Millennials believe their mental health is improved by being in the office (36%).

Another “Great Resignation” wave could be coming.

  • After resuming in-office work, more than a quarter (26%) say they are more likely to leave their current jobs. This number jumps to 33% among people of color.
  • In contrast, Gen Z (36%) and Millennials (35%) are less likely than their generational counterparts to leave their jobs since their return to the office.

The Delta variant is causing a surge in concern for professionals.

  • With Delta’s surge, 43% of those working in an office say they are increasingly worried about exposure and transmission. For people of color, the concern is significant: 21% are losing sleep over it compared to just 11% of their white co-workers.
  • Yet, 59% of employees feel their companies are adequately protecting them, though younger generations are more skeptical: only 38% of Gen Z believe their company is taking enough safety precautions.
  • The top four concerns for workers going into the office are exposure to COVID and its variants (46%); interaction with non-vaccinated co-workers (30%); commute time and costs (30%) and limited flexibility to do personal activities (29%).

Most see no problem with vaccination requirements at work. But, views vary widely on risk of exposure.

  • 60% would prefer vaccine mandates at work. Yet, only 51% work for companies that require vaccinations.
  • The number of people who prefer vaccine mandates at work climbs even higher among the vaccinated to 70%, while only 25% of unvaccinated feel the same.
  • The unvaccinated (47%) are no more worried about working in an office amid the Delta variant surge than before. Only 28% of their vaccinated counterparts agree.
  • Additionally, 54% of women are concerned about COVID exposure compared to 39% of men.

Employees cite separation of work and home life as the top advantage of heading into the office.

  • Those who spend time in the workplace say they benefit most from being able to separate home from work life (46%), collaborate with co-workers in-person (44%), and see work friends (39%).
  • Gen Z see more face-time with managers as a top benefit (43%), while white employees tend to prioritize manager face-time (39%) more than their non-white counterparts (29%).

Read the full survey report here.

About This Survey

Envoy partnered with Wakefield Research to survey 1,000 full-time U.S. employees over the age of 18 who have returned to the office. Survey responses were collected between August 6 and August 13, 2021, using an email invitation and an online survey. “Returned” is defined as those working from the office at least 1 full day per week and they must have returned to the physical office in the last 12 months.

The data has been weighted to ensure reliable and accurate representation of U.S office workers who have returned to the office. The overall margin of error for the findings is ±3.1% at a 95% confidence level.

About Envoy

Envoy empowers over 16,000 workplaces and properties around the globe to redefine how their workplaces run. We connect people, spaces, and data in one seamlessly integrated workplace platform, providing a single solution to manage every aspect of any facility, anywhere. Companies of all sizes can deliver unrivaled employee and visitor experiences to optimize working together in-person. By capturing data and space usage across multiple sources, we help customers make informed workplace resourcing and investment decisions–all while supporting the requirements of operating a secure, safe and fully compliant workplace. We power the places where people work best together.

For more information, please visit


April Marks
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