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Which States are the Happiest to Get Back to Work Post-Lockdown?

Office Worker Alone in an Office

We’re all starting to get back a sense of normality, with many of us getting back to work and stepping foot into the office for the first time in months. In a recent survey, we looked at how happy workers were about getting back to work and what changes companies have made in order to create the safest work environment as possible.

Overall, 62% of those surveyed expressed that they were comfortable with the idea of returning to work, with only 37% of those saying that they had a few reservations around COVID-19 procedures.

We wanted to take a closer look to see how each state fared in worker happiness and try and decipher how workplace procedures affect the confidence and reassurance workers feel as they reenter full-time work.

Rhode Island and Alabama among the happiest workers going back to work

Out of all the workers surveyed, those in Rhode Island and Alabama proved to be the happiest to return to work. With 56% of employees in Rhode Island saying they felt completely comfortable with returning to work and 43% Alabama employees echoing that feeling.

A further 33% of those in Rhode Island and 26% in Alabama, said that they were comfortable to go back to the office, but did have a few worries about the COVID risk.

Some of the unhappiest workers were found in Minnesota and Colorado, with 42% of those in Minnesota saying that they didn’t feel at all comfortable with returning to work and a further 41% in Colorado saying the same. When looking into the data further, we can see that communication is a big factor in whether employees felt comfortable about returning to work, as 19% of workers in Colorado stated that they had received no communication about going back, compared to 0% in Rhode Island.

When it comes to bigger states the data showed us that over a third (35%) of workers in South Carolina are entirely comfortable coming back to work. This is followed by over a fifth (24%) of employees in New York. 20% of those in Florida, 20% in Georgia, 19% in California, and 19% in Texas,

As a whole, workers across the US seem relatively happy with returning to work, albeit with a few worries about the COVID risks. States such as West Virginia (63%) and South Dakota (67%) had the highest percentage of workers that said that they were also happy to return to work, but did have concerns about the COVID risk in their offices.

Are workplaces putting in new procedures to make employees feel safer?

Companies have had to make essential changes to comply with state-wide regulations regarding COVID. Some of these changes have included making masks mandatory, creating one way systems in communal areas and putting social distancing measures in place.

When asked whether their company has made masks mandatory or planned to make them mandatory, 60% said that masks were mandatory in all areas of their workplace. When looking at all states that said masks had been mandatory, the top 5 were:

New Mexico – 88%
Delaware – 86%
Oregon – 85%
Maine – 83.33%
Arkansas – 76.47%

In some companies, masks have been made voluntary and some workers are refusing to wear one. According to our data, some of the most reluctant states to adopt the new mask rules are:

Wyoming – 33%
South Dakota – 33%
Louisiana – 19%
New Hampshire – 16%
Delaware – 14%

When asked how employees felt about being asked to wear a mask, over 50% of respondents said that they were happy to wear one for as long as necessary, due to medical evidence showing it helps to prevent the spread of COVID. A further 30% said they were happy to wear a mask regardless of medical evidence.

However, around 27% of people were not happy about having to wear a mask for a multitude of reasons. One of those reasons centered around the feeling that wearing masks takes away the person’s freedom and human rights, with 5% of respondents stating this as their reason for not wearing a mask in work.

Some companies have also looked into restructuring their companies, with some choosing to change areas such as receptions and alter the job role of receptionists. The industry sectors that have seen the biggest impact with this restructure are the Architecture, Engineering & Building sector, with 21% having said they have removed receptionists in favor of asking customers to simply leave a message.

The HR sector also said it has removed receptionists, with 22% saying they now have a voicemail messaging system and a further 11% saying they now forward calls to existing employees.

How have different industry sectors been affected?

The survey also looked at different industry sectors within the US and how each sector has been affected with the new COVID procedures. Some of the sectors where the employees were completely comfortable with returning to work were:

Architecture, Engineering & Building – 33%
Travel & Transport – 33%
Legal – 30%
Healthcare 30%

However, the sectors that showed the least confidence in returning to work were:

Finance – 37%
Education – 35%
IT & Telecoms – 35%
HR – 33%

Over a fifth (26%) of those in the education sector didn’t trust their employers to keep to guidelines throughout the pandemic, compared to just 10% of those within the Architecture, Engineering & Building sectors.

Supporting employees during the pandemic

With 36% of respondents having returned to work full-time, the focus is now on companies and how they choose to support their workers during this transitional period. When asked, 23% of workers said they have had no support when it comes to being provided with office equipment, so they can work from home, and they have been forced to purchase their own equipment.

A further 35% said they have also had no support with office equipment, but they already had equipment they could use for remote working.

Some of the worst hit states regarding support when working from home were Maine, with 50% of workers saying they had received no help, New Mexico (50%) and Vermont (50%).

Company size didn’t seem to affect these results too much, with the only workers seeing a significant impact on equipment needed were sole traders with 35%, who were forced to buy additional equipment in order to carry on working.

Interestingly, when broken down into job seniority, we can see that job roles such as Director (46%), Senior Management (49%) and Middle Management (40%) had the highest percentages of workers who had received adequate help with at home office equipment.

School support for employees with children

Over a half (54%) of workers surveyed stated that they had school aged children, meaning over half of workers will need to navigate their new work schedule and environment, around their children’s schooling.

Broken down into region, over a quarter of workers in the west said that their children’s school had not yet shown signs that they would be opening again for in person teaching in the fall. Some of the western states that have been faced with schools not reopening in the fall are Oregon, with 30% of people saying that schools wouldn’t reopen and California with 32%.

However, in Kansas, 42% said that their schools would be offering a hybrid of virtual and in person teaching, along with Oklahoma with 41% and Utah with 37%.

With schools understanding the strain full-time working parents are under, this ability to choose whether to send children to school or continue with virtual learning, has meant that nearly 43% of workers are not worried about school interfering with their work. However, 18% of those in Iowa said that they were not happy with schools not reopening in the fall and that they are being forced to return to work with no childcare in place.

Overall, workers appear to be getting used to the new ways of doing things and the majority of companies are trying to be flexible and understanding with those returning to work. However, there are still huge disparities across the country state to state and more work will have to be done in order to create a new normal everyone feels comfortable with.

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