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Under 30 percent of workers expect to return in person by the new year: survey

Under 30 percent of workers expect to return in person by the new year: survey
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Only 28 percent of all workers expect they'll be working in person by the time 2021 rolls around, according to a survey released Thursday by The Conference Board.

The survey found that 8 percent of the workers surveyed had remained at their workplace through the pandemic, 11 percent had already returned and 9 percent expected they would be back in the last quarter of the year, accounting for 28 percent.

Another 30 percent anticipated they would return to work by March, and 7 percent said they would be back in between April and September.

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The survey was conducted online with 1,135 U.S. workers across a range of industries, taken from Sept. 16-25, and sheds light on how the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect the economy. The Conference Board did not provide a margin of error.

Since the outbreak, the nation plunged into its worst unemployment crisis since the Great Depression, but has recovered about half of its lost jobs as the economy began opening back up.

But the deadly virus continues to weigh on workplace decisions. Only 17 percent of workers said they would be very comfortable returning to their workplace. Nearly a third said they weren't comfortable at all.

Lower ranking workers felt more pressure to go back into their workplaces in order to keep their jobs, with a combined 41 percent of individual contributors and front-line managers saying they felt that pressure in comparison with 4 percent of C-suite executives.

“These survey results reinforce the need for employers to hear concerns about the pressure that individual contributors and front-line managers, especially, feel to return to the workplace to keep their jobs,” said Rebecca Ray, executive vice president of human capital at The Conference Board.  

Ray noted that such workers were less likely to be involved in planning the return, which may account for their anxiety. 

"Without a continuous dialogue, and in many cases, the lack of a detailed plan about returning to the workplace, it comes as no surprise that these workers are more apprehensive," she said.