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Survey: Mask practices, trust in bosses and comfort level back in the office vary greatly by region

A new survey by award-winning answering service VoiceNation, shows that 86% of the 1,700 U.S. office workers surveyed nationwide say that their company has made masks compulsory in the workplace. Of these, 60% said their company requires masks to be worn at all times, in all areas, while 25% said their company requires them to be worn only in communal areas. Only 4% said their company has made masks voluntary and they plan to wear one, while 4% said masks are voluntary but they won’t wear one. 

In certain States, masks are more likely to be compulsory at work, with 69% of those in New York and 68% of those in California stating that their companies have already made them compulsory, compared to just 36% of those surveyed in Georgia and 42% in Indiana. 

Eighty-one percent of respondents are OK with wearing a mask in the office, of which 51% said they will wear one as long as is necessary, as they understand that medical evidence shows masks reduce transmission of COVID-19. However, some office workers were less happy:

  • 15% said they would find it too much to a mask all day
  • 16% said they don’t mind wearing a mask at work short-term, but would be less happy if the policy was for the long-term
  • 7% said they won’t be able to do their job the same if wearing a mask
  • 5% don’t like having to wear a mask at work at all, as they feel it inhibits their freedom and human rights. 

Trust in the boss

While the majority of US workers (83%) trust their employers to maintain CDC guidelines for the full duration of the pandemic, 17% don’t trust them to do so.

However, there were variations between the different States: 26% of workers in Colorado and 40% in Mississippi, do not trust company bosses to maintain CDC guidelines. 

The return to the office

Workers seem divided over how they feel about returning to the workplace: a quarter of those surveyed are entirely comfortable with returning, while a further 37% are somewhat comfortable, but with some concerns about COVID risks. A further quarter of workers are not at all comfortable with returning to the office.

There are variations between the industry sectors: 37% of those working in finance, 35% of those working in education and 35% of those in IT and Telecoms, not at all comfortable with returning to the workplace.

Once again, the different states showed variations: 42% of workers in Minnesota, 40% in Colorado, 40% in Oregon and 38% in California, not comfortable about returning to the workplace.

Eric Schurke, vice president of Operations for VoiceNation said: “Post lockdown is a critical time for businesses as they re-establish working patterns and locations and build staff confidence in the workplace. It can either make or break the future of your company culture, especially for those companies that have a hybrid system with some employees in the workplace and some continuing to work from home. It’s really concerning to see that only 25% of people are ‘entirely comfortable’ returning to their place of work, as it means that means 75% of staff have some level of concern. That’s a huge number that must not be ignored. Maintaining employee safety and well being in the workplace must be the top priority right now, to build trust and maintain employee engagement that is likely to have been lost over recent months.”