New Qualtrics Study Finds 2 out of 3 Americans Say They are Not Comfortable Returning to the Workplace Right Now, and Nearly Half Believe We Will ‘Never Get Back to Normal’


Last updated:  May 5, 2020

Qualtrics’ Return to Work & Back to Business study reveals what customers and employees want to see happen before they feel confident re-entering public life, including attending live events, dining at a restaurant, and even voting at a polling station

SALT LAKE CITY and SEATTLEMay 5, 2020 /PRNewswire/ — Qualtrics, the leader in customer experience and creator of the experience management category, today announced its Return to Work & Back to Business Study, which found the majority of workers are uncomfortable going back to the workplace right now. As government and business leaders look to reopen the economy, Qualtrics asked more than 2,000 Americans how confident they felt about returning to the workplace or visiting public establishments right now—and what it would take for them to feel comfortable doing so.

“While most organizations are looking at facts like hospitalization and testing rates as they reopen workplaces and businesses, it is equally important to understand perceptions—how people feel,” said Mike Maughan, head of global insights, Qualtrics. “Our study found that most Americans still feel uncomfortable returning to public spaces. Organizations will need to know what actions they can take to help customers and employees feel confident during this next phase of the pandemic.”

The study was conducted on Qualtrics CoreXM, an industry-leading platform where organizations can manage and take action on experience data (X-data)—the thoughts, emotions, and intents of stakeholders.

Returning to Work – Key Findings

  • Two out of three people (66%) are not comfortable going back to the workplace right now. In fact, workers of all ages — from Boomers to Gen Z — are equally wary about returning to shared work spaces, with more than 65% in every age group reporting that they were uncomfortable doing so.

  • A quarter of employees (25%) expect to return to the workplace some time in May, while 28% believe they’ll be going back in June. Nearly half (48%) don’t expect to return to work until August or later.

  • Most employees want assurance from public health officials like the Centers for Disease Control (63%) or the World Health Organization (45%) to feel comfortable returning to the workplace.

Once that criteria is met, however, workers will feel more comfortable if the following measures are taken to protect themselves and their coworkers:

    • 64% want to be able to wear a mask at work
    • 61% want to maintain social distancing
    • 50% say they want more flexible sick-leave policies
    • 49% want to be able to limit the number of people they’re exposed to in workplace meetings
    • 43% want their temperatures checked before entering the building

Getting Back to Business – Key Findings

  • People don’t yet feel confident interacting with each other. 68% of respondents say they would feel uncomfortable playing a team sport, 60% say they wouldn’t want to attend a religious service, and 51% say they would still feel uncomfortable going to a retail store.

  • Live Concert and Sporting Events: Of those who regularly attend live concerts, 26% say they are unlikely to return in the foreseeable future, and 24% of those who attend sporting events say the same.
    • 58% say they wouldn’t feel comfortable attending a live sporting event until September 1 or later.
    • 61% saying they wouldn’t feel comfortable attending a live concert until September 1 or later.

  • Restaurants: Though restaurants will partially reopen as states do the same, 68% of people say they would feel uncomfortable eating at a restaurant right now, and 16% say they’re unlikely to dine in at all in the foreseeable futureRight now, 42% of people say they wouldn’t feel comfortable eating in a restaurant until September 1 or later.

Even after public health officials say it’s safe, and a treatment or vaccine for the virus is readily available, there are a few measures people want to see in place before they feel comfortable dining at a restaurant:

    • 36% want tables separated at a safe distance
    • 36% want social distancing established
    • 33% want servers and staff to wear gloves and masks
    • 21% want their temperatures checked before going into the restaurant
  • Flights and Public Transit: When it comes to transit, 77% of people feel uncomfortable taking public transit right now, and 75% feel uncomfortable flying on an airplane.
  • Polling: As states begin to open for business and the primary election process continues, 60% of respondents say they would be uncomfortable voting in-person at a polling place right now.
    • 40% want masks to be mandatory for every passenger
    • 38% want assigned seating with passengers spaced at least 6 feet apart
    • 37% want the boarding and unloading of passengers done in a way that maintains separation
    • 32% want the temperatures of passengers checked before they board

For public officials working to make in-person voting safe, after public health officials say it’s safe to do so, people will feel more comfortable in polling places with the following measures in place:

    • 34% want mandatory masks for everyone
    • 33% want social distancing established
    • 32% want booths sanitized between every voter
    • 22% want temperature checks done on all involved

Qualtrics recently announced four new solutions to help organizations determine the right way to transition employees back to the workplace and ensure customer confidence as they reopen businesses. They are immediately available at qualtrics.com/back-to-business-employee and qualtrics.com/back-to-business-customer.

To view the full study results, visit qualtrics.com/blog/covid-19-back-to-work/.

About Qualtrics
Qualtrics, the leader in customer experience and creator of the Experience Management (XM) category, is changing the way organizations manage and improve the four core experiences of business––customer, employee, product, and brand. Over 11,000 organizations around the world are using Qualtrics to listen, understand, and take action on experience data (X-data™)––the beliefs, emotions, and intentions that tell you why things are happening, and what to do about it. The Qualtrics XM Platform™ is a system of action that helps businesses attract customers who stay longer and buy more, engage employees who build a positive culture, develop breakthrough products people love, and build a brand people are passionate about. To learn more, please visit qualtrics.com.

Contact: press@qualtrics.com