Let’s Be Leaders
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Let’s Be Leaders

You May Be Sitting in Your Office Again This Year

6 Feet Apart and Masked, But In Person

Photo by Cherrydeck on Unsplash

I recently paid 100 Amazon MTurk workers to participate in my five-minute survey that asked about their job, employer, and the plans their employer may have in the future to navigate the pandemic. The data revealed many exciting trends, such as if you can expect to return to your office this year or not.

Chart Auto Generated from Data

First, asking for some basic information about each respondent’s employer, I learned that 40% worked at a company with 50 or fewer employees. In comparison, the other 60% worked at medium and larger companies such as chains and national manufacturing companies.

Chart Auto Generated from Data

My next question asked respondents if they worked for a public or private company. While this detail may seem trivial, I wanted to see if there was a correlation between how public and private companies responded to the pandemic. Spoiler: There is no significant data to suggest public and private companies reacted differently.

Chart Auto Generated from Data
Chart Auto Generated from Data

I then wanted to capture employment time and salary levels to use in further analysis, such as if higher-paid workers were offered the option to continue work online. The logic behind this is that many customer-facing roles such as cashiers and salespeople tend to earn less money than people in leadership roles, who might only communicate with their team.

The analysis continued when I asked people if they could complete all or most of their job duties when not on location. 67% said their employer had systems in place, while 32% said they must be at their physical work location to complete their responsibilities. One person said they were unsure if they could work remotely. Asking this question allowed me to see which proportion of people could work remotely, which would allow me to compare different figures.

Chart Auto Generated from Data

The purpose of this survey was to measure the possibility of employers allowing their teams to return to the office. Based on job postings, press releases, and other info, I was under the impression that many employers had no plans for in-person work this year, yet the data shows a different trend.

Chart Auto Generated from Data

A surprising 49% of people had responded their employer has plans in motion for them to return. Another 29% have already returned, which likely comprises retail and manufacturing workers. The other 22% have either received no information from their employer, or likely won’t be in the physical office this year. Unfortunately, there’s more Zoom Exhaustion on the horizon for them. Maybe look into purchasing a pair of blue light glasses?

I also asked respondents what state their employer was located in. This data was used to find how many people in each state had returned to their physical office. I then compared that data with the infection rate in their respective states to see if employers were concerned about it when considering a physical office return.

Graph Created in Excel Using Data Collected

The data made for a pretty fantastic graph but showed little correlation between infection rate and total infection in a state. To be sure, I did a simple regression analysis that compared the two data points.

Graph Created in Excel Using Data Collected

Showing an R squared value of .3825 signifies that the data may have some correlation, but it can be difficult as the maximum value for “returned to work” is one which causes a limit. If I wanted to confirm or deny that state infection rate was considered, further testing would be required.

I asked a few more questions for those who still had not returned and their opinion on COVID-19 protocols.

Chart Auto Generated from Data

An overwhelming 80% of people had reported they would return (or consider returning) to the office if COVID-19 protocols were observed. The other 20% said they would not if offered. I assumed a percent of the population would not want to return, so I asked what protocols they would like to see in place before returning.

Graph Created in Excel Using Data Collected

Respondents were given four primary choices, as shown above, with the option to add their own as needed. Based on this chart, it seems that more people would prefer to physically distance and have plenty of cleaning supplies than wear a mask while working all day. One person even mentioned that they would not go to work if they were required to wear a mask.

Graph Created in Excel Using Data Collected

People had a wide range of responses when asked for open-ended information and opinions relating to their return to work. The most popular keywords were “uncertain,” “returning shortly,” “never worked remotely,” and “following COVID-19 protocol.”

This chart also revealed that some companies might require their employees to be inoculated before returning to the office. One person had also mentioned their employer asked them for feedback on how best to return.

Graph Created in Excel Using Data Collected

As I played with charts and figures, I found an intriguing but predictable trend. When income rose, people’s overall view of their company and their new work environment rose. People earning less than $35,000 were generally retail workers who are customer facing and at a higher risk than people in managerial roles and typically only interact with a team. It’s simple to move a whole team online but impossible for a retail worker to push freight while on Zoom.

This analysis had some surprising findings, yet also provided a general outlook on the next year. It seems both employees and employers are willing to return to the office if safety protocols are followed.

In a recent class session, we spoke about this topic and the benefits of digital meetings. My professor pointed out that no shoes were on his feet while he at least had pants on. (Thank god!) We also discussed the negatives: unintentional social interactions and “water cooler talk” that don’t happen nearly as often while looking at a screen.

Here’s to 2021 in the hopes that we return to a semi-normal work environment!

I’m a business student always looking for more opportunities. If you’re like me Izzie Ramirez shares how to freelance and network while still in school.

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Zach Goreczny

Zach Goreczny

College Student. Coffee Lover. Writes about Leadership, Business, and Data Science. https://www.udemy.com/user/zachary-goreczny/