Survey Looks at the Future of Work, Post COVID-19

Torch, a San Francisco based leadership coaching firm, recently commissioned One Poll to conduct a survey asking respondents how they envision the world will appear in the wake of COVID-19.

Overall, 75% of the 2,000 Americans surveyed said they fear life will never return to what was once “normal.”

Here were some other findings:

  • 63% of employed respondents said they don’t think their job will return to normal and anticipate they’ll work remotely for at least the remainder of the year.
  • 59% admit they would be far too afraid to start reporting to a shared workplace once again.
  • 36% have concerns they’ll never be able to get back to the office without potentially putting themselves and their family in harm’s way.
  • 67% think their employer doesn’t understand how hard it is to work from home, especially for parents.
  • 64% don’t feel as productive as they should be due to intrusive feelings of pandemic-related anxiety.
  • 70% of respondents say just the thought of using public transit stresses them out.
  • 64% think their employer should be much more flexible regarding remote work, even when offices are fully reopened. (I’m surprised this isn’t 100%)
  • Close to 75% of survey participants believe handshakes are now a relic of the past.
  • 45% think companies should start administering temperature checks before office entrance is permitted.
  • 41% believe there will be no hugs or physical contact of any kind allowed
  • 38% are in favor of doing away with a physical office entirely and transitioning fully to remote work all the time
  • 33% believe there will be less business travel
  • 75% believe companies will start instituting fully virtual candidate screening and interview procedures.

I think one thing is clear from the survey; work will look and be different for the foreseeable future.

I also think the results show that people are concerned about their safety and the safety of their families.

I hope companies are aware of these findings or are conducting their own surveys to find out what their employees are thinking about returning to work. And once they have that data, they act accordingly.

It’s a chance to show that companies really do place people above profits.

My solution would be that if a job can be done remotely, and the person wants to work remotely, then let the person work remotely. Figuring out how to make it work for everyone should be the easy part of such a solution.

On a side note, I would hate to see the handshake go away; that may be a topic for a future blog.

It will also be interesting to look back on this time period in 10 years and see what has had a bigger impact on work, COVID-19 or Artificial Intelligence…

*image from AFL-CIO

51 thoughts on “Survey Looks at the Future of Work, Post COVID-19

  1. 75% of survey participants believe handshakes are now a relic of the past–
    41% believe there will be no hugs or physical contact of any kind allowed
    38% are in favor of doing away with a physical office entirely and transitioning fully to remote work all the time

    Those I copied and the rest is tragic. I’m none of the % over there. My biggest worry is that my son will grow up in a world where he can’t have a human connection because everyone is afraid of any kind of contact.

    I’m thinking of my husband now who have a bad case of pollen allergy… this time of year, last year he can sneeze as much as he want in public without anyone caring about it. This time just once and everyone from 6 feet away are ready to run. 🙄

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I guess this survey assumes no vaccine will be available, nor will we achieve herd immunity. Otherwise, I don’t see how any of the concerns people currently have would continue to be relevant.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think here it is a mixed bag. Some employers are OK with people working from home, others want their employees to come into the office. The big issue here is what to do with schools that are scheduled to start in a few weeks…

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I must be honest, Jim, I think the practice of shaking hands is very unhygienic. I have never volunteered my hand unless the other party put their’s out and it was unavoidable. I think there will be much less travel for businesses. Companies are all about making profits and that is a great way to save on costs. The days of conferences are also over in my opinion. It’s going to take years for the economy to recover from this and we still don’t know if we’re at the beginning, in the middle or near the end. My guess is we are at the beginning.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks for your thoughtful comments, Robbie. I’ve never had a problem with a handshake, perhaps because it always seemed more of a guy thing. Th fist bump seemed to be replacing it, even before the pandemic. AndNow we’ve got elbow bumps, that look ridiculous to me. I agree that business travel will be cut dramatically, making both the employer and employee happy. I hope it doesn’t take years to recover from this, and I hope there’s not another pandemic in my lifetime!

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Long term I’m sure AI will have a much bigger impact on work. AI will eliminate work for people and not necessarily in a good way. Covid-19 need not have the impact it has had. If there had been the leadership and buy in for addressing the virus from the beginning, we wouldn’t be in such bad shape now.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. good point, John, that a lot of the economic impact we are seeing could have been lessened with a better response from world leaders, particularly in the U.S. I hope AI doesn’t somehow get politicized, but I can see things like Universal Basic Income becoming a issue as AI starts to replace jobs.


      1. Universal Basic Income will be needed. It will be interesting to see how they pay for UBI when AI replaces a lot of jobs. AI and robotics has already replaced many. And professional positions like teachers, lawyers and doctors aren’t exempt. AI has already taken over work that some doctors and lawyers do.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. hopefully all the productivity gains from using AI will fill the Treasury coffers and can be the source for UBI. And it’s hard to think of a profession that would be exempt from the impacts of AI…

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I always greet people with a handshake or hug. While I’m sure I’ll modify this some, I suspect that after we come up with a vaccine, some of this will come back.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I’m a fan of handshakes or a fist bump as well. Hugs depend on the person and the situation. I do have to say I am not a fan of the elbow bump – that looks silly. I am hopeful that life returns to normal once we’ve got that vaccine…

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Great post, Jim, and an important subject for discussion. The poll shares some interesting numbers. In my recent job search, all of my interviewing was done virtually. And I was onboarded completely online, not seeing my office until my start date. That was a big difference for me. Luckily I work in the medical field and our employer is taking all the precautions to keep the staff safe that they can. I know that the lack of shaking hands or close physical contact has been the toughest for me. Anyone who thinks that should go away forever, has never looked another man in his eyes and shook his hand about something. The only saving grace will be a vaccine. Until then, we must swallow the bitter pill that is our lack of response and leadership. Looking forward to reading the comments to this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. First, I hope your job is going well. That is certainly a different way of starting.

      I am also a fan of a handshake, and depending on the situation, a fist bump. Hugs I’m a little stingier about giving:) And I hope I never give an elbow bump.

      The vaccine will be critical for getting things back to as close to normal as possible, but you are right, we need to be diligent until that happens.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I agree with you, I hope I never give an elbow bump. At that point, I think I would rather we just not touch at all! Job is going well. Luckily, I rarely interact closely with my colleagues and when we do meet, we maintain social distance and all wear masks. You know, that diligence thing you mentioned!

        Liked by 1 person

  7. Interesting post and numbers! I think that there should be a push to connect rural communities to fast internet connection more than ever now as some of these more remote places will become even more peripheral. As to handshakes, I won’t miss them at all. TOo me it’s a relic of a man-dominated world that should probably go away, and not for hygiene reasons only. I was in business meetings where there were very hearty hand shakes between the men and there was either some hesitation before shaking my hand, or no shaking hands at all if I wasn’t the one to extend my hand out first. I thought it was bizarre at the time, but cast those thoughts aside. Seeing your post and some of the comments made this uneasy feeling resurface.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. you are correct about the need for easy access to high speed Internet for everyone. That seems like that would be relatively easy to do.
      And I think you are right about the handshake perhaps being more of a guy thing, which leads to problems like the one you described. So for that reason alone, perhaps the handshake should go the way of the horse and buggy….

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Call me a cynic but I fear that the key to this is in your line about companies taking the chance to show they value people more than profits: neither your government or ours has actually set them an example for that, have they…

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great things to think about. In general though, there are jobs that cannot be done at home without human contact. Being in healthcare (although not currently working) I’m not sure how a lot of this can apply. Being careful and responsible are key. My husband comes home and tells me some of the changes in his work routine, such as wearing masks for every patient, and all the protective gear he wears when he performs surgeries or is called in on trauma or ER. We are both big believers in masks, social distancing and no hand shaking I think to get this country back where it needs to be or at least somewhere on the road to normal more people need to do these simple things. But, we also believe we can’t stay put forever. People are generally social beings and what is this doing towards our mental health? I know I have my days lately!!!! This is just my opinion. I have no answers but I certainly feel for those in offices and especially those in schools, students and staff!! Another great post to get me thinking this morning!!! Take care! Lori

    Liked by 1 person

    1. thanks, Lori, for your thoughtful comments, and please thank your husband for the work he is doing. I agree that some jobs you cannot do remotely, such as construction. But perhaps some of those types of jobs might start to be replaced. I also agree that the guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are common sense, and I wish it hadn’t turned political. And like you, I can’t wait for things to return to normal. I am sure you miss your travel!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. sad on many levels, as an early childhood educator, my job has everything to do with connections, hugs, tears, laps, spills, dancing, singing, laughing, crying, talking, discovering, wondering, creating, and a million other things.

    . positive on some levels, that employers will become more flexible and once this is over, offer their employees home/office options.


    1. it will be interesting to see how pre-k and kindergarten classes go this year. You are right, it’s so much about making a connection, physical and otherwise.

      and I think we will see a lot more people choosing to work remotely in the future.

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It is scary, easy to become obsessed with it, though we really have no control. Just control of our fears. I would hate to see all physical contact go away. Humans NEED physical contact. I am a hugger and its been hard! My sister is a teacher at a elementary school in Va. She told me today that once the school year starts they are not allowed to travel out of state or if they do they have to quarantine themselves for 2 weeks when they come back. She is used to making monthly visits up here to see me and my sister and my parents. I don’t know what the rule is about people coming to visit them from out of state.
    Have you guys decided what you are doing in the Fall? Online learning or back in the classroom?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. that will be tough for you and your sister. Our school will open with students living on campus and taking their classes in a mix of online and in person. It will be interesting to see how it all plays out…

      Liked by 1 person

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