Almost a third of workers never want to return to the office again

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The vaccines are on their way. So far they seem so effective that Dr Anthony Fauci even thinks we might have crowded stadiums return in summer 2021.

It also means that more and more employers will start to reopen their offices – and we’ll see how loyal the WFH remains.

To have an eye on the future of work, Future Forum by Slack conducted a three-month survey of over 9,000 knowledge workers or skilled office workers around the world, which they used to build their Remote Employee Experience Index. Future Forum by Slack donated Fortune Exclusive Analytics access to this raw data. *

Here is what we found.

The numbers to know

27%

  • … Knowledge workers say they would never have (13%) or rarely (14%) work from their employer’s desk in an ideal world. 39% say they would always want (12%) or generally (27%) work in the office. And 34% are in the middle.

48%

  • … Workers say they expect their employers to make permanent policy changes to expand remote working after the pandemic. 31% say they don’t expect permanent changes, and 21% are not sure.

43%

  • … Hiring managers say they will likely consider a remote candidate when hiring for a position on their team. 32% said they probably wouldn’t, and 25% are neutral.

33%

  • … Workers feel exhausted.

The big picture

  • The workers are divided when they return to the office. About 3 out of 10 workers would never or rarely want to return to the office, while 4 out of 10 would like to go back to the old normal. We should expect a mixed approach from employers, adapting the new labor policies to the best way their staff work. Simply put: The future of work won’t look like a fully-filled office or a wasteland of empty buildings.

Some points to remember

1. Older workers prefer WFH the most.

It’s not the 90s: older workers are very good at digital communication. And those employees aged 55 to 64 are the most likely to say they’d rather never work in the office, with 17% of them indicating it.

Only 11% of workers aged 25 to 44 say the same thing. What can be the reason? As I have already pointed out, younger employees find it most difficult to be productive when working from home. Some find it difficult because they are still learning the tricks of their industry or their job. This age group includes many parents – a group that struggles to balance WFH and child care.

2. Burnout hits the lowest paid workers hardest.

In April alone, over 20 million Americans have been laid off. Smaller staff means those lucky enough to escape the pink slips are urged to do more. That, coupled with disruptions in one’s personal life, is a perfect recipe for burnout. In all, 33% of workers say they are exhausted.

People at the bottom of the office chain are the most susceptible to burnout. Among those earning less than $ 50,000, 39% okay, they feel exhausted. 29% earning over $ 200,000 feel the same way.

Lower paid workers are more likely to have their jobs cut during the crisis. This means that many of these lowly earners are working very hard to keep businesses from going out of business and getting burned out faster.

* Methodology: The Slack Work Tracking survey was conducted from May 30 to August 11 with an audience of over 9,000 “knowledge workers” or “skilled office workers” in Australia, France, Germany, Japan, UK and USA.

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