Q&A: Vaxed, but are we ready to return?

Andrea Curry and Jean Lee, Content Marketers, Zenefits
Jun 17, 2021

With most states offering COVID-19 vaccines to all adults, what should small businesses take into account as they reopen offices?

On this episode of POPS!, Zenefits content marketers Jean Lee and Andrea Curry discuss surprising findings from a survey of 1,000 full- and part-time employees about their post-vaccination work preferences. You’ll hear how to gather input from your own employees as you plan a return to the office, and tips on how to do so safely.

After you listen:

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On this Q&A, you’ll hear: 

  • [00:43-01:06] How Zenefits gathered data on COVID-19 vaccines in the workplace
  • [01:10-01:55] Surprising employee preferences on returning to work in an office
  • [01:56-03:05] How to take stock of what employees want 
  • [03:06-03:31] What the survey says about hybrid work 
  • [03:32-04:33] How to bring employees back to the office safely
  • [04:33-05:34] Survey findings about employee vaccination rates and comfort levels


Andrea: As vaccinations are more readily available. What considerations should I think about as my company reopens the office. 

Didi: Welcome to POPS!, the show that shows you how to shift from human resources, paperwork to people, operations for the new world of work Havel by answering one question at a time.

To help answer your question. Here are Andrea Curry and Jean Lee content marketers from Zenefits 

Andrea: Jean. You actually wrote a really fascinating article about this 

Jean: topic. Yeah. So we recently ran a survey, um, that covers the topics of COVID-19 vaccinations in the workplace. And, um, returning to workplaces, we surveyed a thousand respondents about a thousand respondents, which were a mix of full of full and part-time employees, small business owners and operators and HR managers.

Andrea: I read through the article and the results were very surprising and divided. So what were some of the 

Jean: results that you found. Yeah. So the, the first, uh, surprising result that we found, um, centered around employee preferences and to what degree they want to return to working in the office, as we all know remote work has been one of the trending topics during the pandemic and our data revealed that remote work is just not for everyone around 36% of our respondents said they actually preferred to work in the office every day.

And around a quarter around 23%, prefer a hundred percent remote work and the rest, which was around like 41%, prefer a hybrid model or going into the office occasionally. 

Andrea: I think there was an assumption that everybody was working from home and then would prefer to continue to work from home or at least a hybrid model.

But we’re seeing there is a good percentage of people who actually want to return to the office. So if you’re an HR manager or small business owner, it’s just really important to stake stock of what works for your business model. And. You know, think about what your employees want. So a good first step is to create a survey.

Doesn’t have to be long, but very simple, just asking their employees what they prefer. And the results may be surprising. They may want to come to the office because they don’t have a dedicated work site at home, or they miss the camaraderie of their coworkers. Or you may find that they’re actually really more productive at home and they still want to continue that remote work.

Another thing to think about is. If remote work is working, what you can do to invest in technology to make sure it goes smoother. We were all thrown into this last year during the pandemic. Now that things are calmed down a little bit, you know, really see like if there’s tools and resources that can make everyone do their 

Jean: job.

Better. So just bouncing off what you said, Andrea, I think serving your employees is really important in terms of getting a pulse on how they feel about, you know, vaccinations in the workplace and returning to work. Zenefits actually has a great survey template that small business owners or HR managers can download that covers questions related to both those topics.

Andrea: One of the other. Surprising results in the survey was, even though we hear a lot about hybrid workplaces, only 5% of respondents said their companies are planning a permanent hybrid environment in 40% of employees reported that their company is bringing them back all at once. So what’s that 

Jean: about? Just, you know, the return to work will be more sudden than we think.

And, um, I think that, you know, HR managers and small business owners should definitely be aware of current CDC guidance and their state rules regarding bringing employees back to work places. Just 

Andrea: a note that on is there are checklists and guides. So if you are reopening the office or reopening 

Jean: your business, it 

Andrea: will give you step-by-step instructions on how to keep you, your employees and your customers.

Safe. And one of the most important things to do moving forward is to normalize, taking sick 

Jean: time. I think it’s also really important to address employee well, being, as you prepare to bring your staff back to workplaces, the pandemic has just really affected so many employees, mental health and wellbeing.

So thinking of them as they adjust to the new normal, I think will be really appreciated or you can consider. Perks and benefits like pet friendly workspaces, uh, childcare, benefits, transportation benefits, and access to mental health programs and resources. And those are just some of the options you can provide your employees as they return back.

Just to go into some surprising survey results about COVID-19 vaccinations in the workplace. We know the topic of vaccines is just like dominating conversations right now, and that everyone has individual preferences regarding vaccines. We found that almost half of employees. In our survey have not received a shot.

And then those that are not vaccinated, 64% actually don’t want to receive a COVID vaccination. And on top of that, we wanted to find out how comfortable employees feel working with colleagues that are un-vaccinated. What was surprising to us was that we found majority 52% of our respondents said they are comfortable working in their workplace with colleagues that are not vaccinated.

Did you find 

Andrea: that there was a number of reasons behind that? So we did 

Jean: ask our respondents who did not want to receive a shot, the reasons why they don’t want to, the option that got the most votes was respondents wanting to wait to see if there are unintended side effects of receiving a COVID-19 vaccination.

Andrea: All right. Thanks Jean for sharing your survey results and all that wonderful insight. And if you want to read the full report, visit www dot  dot com.

Didi: Do you have a question for our expert? Click the link in the show notes, or if you’ve got other ideas and feedback about our show, send them to [email protected] .


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