Friday August 27, 2021

Workplace Trends Report - Back to the Workplace: Are we there yet?

Download the latest Workplace Trends Report

COVID-19 Workplace Commons is a worldwide community dedicated to enabling the sharing of information on workplace practices regarding the coronavirus pandemic.

Currently, there is a lack of real-world, timely and accessible data on how employers are changing their workplaces due to COVID-19. As a result, employees, employers and policy makers are in need of strong information to make informed decisions about back-to-workplace policies, testing, practices and priorities.

Arizona State University, with support from The Rockefeller Foundation and in collaboration with the World Economic Forum, developed a series of surveys to collect, disseminate and enable access to anonymized data within multiple industry sectors and geographical locations. The latest survey collected information from employers about their response to the COVID-19 pandemic including testing and contact tracing, vaccination, employee wellbeing, future of work, pandemic response and preparedness, and financial impact. Workplace Commons includes responses from more than 1,100 companies worldwide. Case studies from employers are also available within the interactive dashboard.

Phase III survey

Phase III of the Workplace Commons survey closed on August 20, 2021. The results will be available in mid-September.

Workplace Trends Report

Executive Summary

The COVID-19 pandemic has altered every aspect of our lives – how we live, how we interact and how we work. It has taken a toll on the financial, emotional, mental and physical health of individuals, families, friends and colleagues. Our phones and computers became our life lines. Our homes became the workplace, the school, the daycare – a place of safety but isolation.

Work continues to play a central role in the lives of so many adults, so we wanted to understand how employers are reacting to the pandemic – what is changing, what is not – the good, the bad and the ugly.

In the very beginning of the pandemic, employers did not play an active role on a national scale. Policy was made by government and public health organizations. The medical establishment dominated the headlines on how businesses should keep their employees safe. Most employers that could have their employees work from home allowed the employees to do just that. But that is changing. Employers are becoming more relevant and vocal on how they prepare their workforce, customers, suppliers and their community to return to the workplace. Retailers and service industries led the way as they did not have as many options for Work From Home. But, by the second quarter 2021, all employers are becoming more proactive. They are expanding their formal policies on how and when they will come together in person and clarifying their expectations.

This report, Back to the Workplace – Are we there yet?, features results from the second survey in a three-part series within the ASU Workplace Commons initiative which features an innovative, interactive back-to-workplace data dashboard that enables access to anonymized survey data from both phase 1 (fall 2020) and phase 2 (spring 2021) surveys. Responses to the survey came from employers in 24 industry sectors and 1,339 facilities at 1,168 companies. Approximately 75% of responses are from large businesses with 250 or more employees and 95% of responses coming from companies based in the U.S. and U.K.

The report provides employer data about the impact of the pandemic on six different types of pandemic-related workplace practices including testing and contact tracing, vaccination, employee wellbeing, pandemic response and preparedness, financial impact and the future of work. In addition, the ASU Workplace Commons houses a number of employer case studies that provide practical insights into how employers around the world are responding to the pandemic. As the pandemic and employer responses continue to evolve, we will field one additional survey and publish the results during the summer of 2021.