Weber Shandwick study: Employees would pick WFH over vaccination

Six in 10 respondents are worried they’ll be forced to come back to the office before it’s safe.

A healthcare worker in Miami gets vaccinated for COVID-19 this week. (Photo credit: Getty Images)
A healthcare worker in Miami gets vaccinated for COVID-19 this week. (Photo credit: Getty Images)

NEW YORK: Most remote staffers would choose working from home over getting a vaccination for COVID-19, according to a study from Weber Shandwick.

Weber, its management consulting group United Minds and KRC Research conducted the survey online from November 17-19, sampling approximately 1,000 adults who were demographically representative of the adult U.S. population. It was the latest in a string of surveys tracking employee and consumer sentiment about COVID-19.

Most employees said they are very pleased with how companies have responded to the pandemic. Seventy percent said their organizations have prioritized safety over profits, and 73% said the actions their employers have taken have been perfect.

However, that does not mean remote workers are eager to get back to the office or excited about a vaccine reestablishing old work patterns.

Six in 10 (60%) remote employees said they are worried they will be forced to return to the office before it’s safe. Given a choice between being vaccinated or working from home, 55% of remote employees said they would not get the vaccine, and only 36% said they plan to get the shot and head back to the office either full- or part-time.

Because the results are consistent with other surveys that found consumers have doubts about COVID-19 vaccines, United Minds president Kate Bullinger said she wasn’t surprised that employees would choose to work at home over vaccinations. However, she said it is revealing that “work wasn’t a substantial motivator to getting vaccinated for those who are hesitant” and it highlights the important role companies will play in communicating accurate vaccine information to employees.

A study released this week by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that the public is warming to a vaccine, with 71% saying they will “definitely or probably” get a COVID-19 shot, up from 63% in September.

If vaccinations are required to return to the office, 52% of remote employees said they will ask if they can skip the shot and continue working from home. On the other hand, 41% said they want the vaccine as soon as possible so they can stop working remotely.

Most respondents said they feel “productive and supported in their new work environment.” Almost 90% said their employers communicate often and have given them the tools they need, and 79% said they are working as efficiently as they did in the office.

The success of remote work is equally a strong factor as concerns about vaccines when respondents say they’d rather skip going back to the office if it requires a shot, Bullinger said.

“We believe it’s a combination of both,” she explained. “When we slice up the data, we estimate that up to 45% of remote employees have some reservations around getting vaccinated, but there’s no doubt remote work is here to stay.”

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