Mental health was the No.1 factor influencing future working environments, the ongoing IBM Institute for Business Value survey found.
Work from home fatigue has officially kicked in. An ongoing IBM Institute for Business Value study of global consumers revealed last month that the percentage of Americans indicating they would like to continue working remotely at least occasionally declined to 67% in August from more than 80% in July.
Only 50% reported they wanted to work remotely primarily (down 15 percentage points from July), according to the study.
In the US, 28% said they would prefer to continue working remotely exclusively while 22% said they would like to work remotely with occasional visits to their workplace. Seventeen percent said they would like to return to their workplace with occasional opportunities to work remotely and 14% said they would like to return to their workplace exclusively, the study found.
When asked about factors influencing their preference for their future working environments, the No. factor cited was mental health (29% of respondents). Those who said they wanted to return to the office exclusively cited mental health, desire for human contact, and need to improve productivity as the most important factors.
COVID 19 concerns remain strong
Many people globally indicated that the pandemic has made them concerned about the security of their jobs and is taking a toll on their mental health. The study found levels of concern are especially high in Brazil, where more than 80% said they fear another outbreak as a result of lifting restrictions, and nearly nine in 10 said the pandemic has made them more concerned about their health and the health of family members.
As nations continue efforts to reopen, most people surveyed still don’t see a light at the end of the tunnel as significant concerns linger, the study found.
At least three in four respondents in the UK, Mexico, Spain, and Brazil are concerned about a second wave hitting later in 2020. And an overwhelming majority in all countries indicated they believe there will be more pandemic events like this in the future, according to the study.
Expectations varied considerably among Americans about when a vaccine might be made available. Less than one-quarter of respondents said they believe a vaccine will be available to the public in 2020. More than one-third said it will be available in the first quarter of 2021, while one in 10 said a vaccine for COVID-19 will never be available.
“Our data tells us that many individuals are looking for more transparency and flexibility from their employers as they navigate this great uncertainty caused by the pandemic,” said Jesus Mantas, senior managing partner of IBM Services, in a statement. “Organizations need to focus on building trust with their workforce and customers, and agility to deliver solutions that meet them where they are.”
Other workplace-related August study findings include:
Across all countries, millennials (ages 25-39) are feeling the impact of COVID-19 most heavily: 69% are concerned about their job security and 60% said the pandemic has taken a toll on their mental health, higher than all other age groups.
Trust and transparency remain key as businesses and individuals adjust their expectations for the new normal. More than half (52%) of Americans reported that they trust their employer during the pandemic. At the same time, expectations about measures they’d like to see to feel comfortable returning to the workplace remained high.
In August, 64% of Americans said that there needs to be clear communication from employers about what is being done to sanitize the workplace (63% in July), and more than half indicated interest in technology-driven solutions that allow employees to reserve spaces to avoid crowded “hot spots” in the workplace.
As businesses continue to adjust to meet the demands of their clients and employees, hybrid working models are likely to continue well after the pandemic subsides, according to the survey.
Businesses need to foster trust with their employees and build their agility to deliver options that meet employees where they are, and deliver personalized, digital experiences for customers, IBM said.
The IBM survey included responses from more than 14,500 adults in Brazil, China, Germany, India, Mexico, Spain, the United States and the United Kingdom.