Four in 10 employers say they will fire workers who refuse to return to the workplace full time in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a survey of 1,500 small-business owners, released this week.
Conducted by business review website Digital.com, the survey polled business owners across a range of industries, including manufacturing, transportation and logistics, retail, energy, healthcare, and more. Nearly 50% of the survey respondents said most job functions require in-person attendance, and 45% expressed concerns about a decline in employee productivity while working remotely. Business owners also cited other disadvantages to working from home, including low employee morale, increased lateness due to oversleeping and distractions, and increased miscommunication among staff.
At the same time, the survey found that 10% of employers will make remote work mandatory, and 17% said employees will follow a hybrid schedule of onsite and remote work post-pandemic. Survey results also showed that most business owners are willing to consider feedback from employees about work schedules: 69% of employers said they have asked or plan to ask workers for their input on post-pandemic work structure.
“One critical takeaway from this survey is that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to post-pandemic workplace strategies,” Digital’s small-business expert Dennis Consorte said in a statement announcing the findings. “Many business owners want mandatory in-person attendance. They need to get direct feedback from workers, mitigate fears about the virus, and demonstrate empathy about other concerns before making such an impactful decision.”
Maintaining pandemic health and safety protocols ranked high, as well. The survey found that 42% of businesses will require staff to get vaccinated before returning to work onsite and that mask mandates and social distancing will remain in place: 55% of small businesses will require workers to wear a mask, while 52% will prohibit or limit close interactions between employees.