ASE Releases COVID-19 Return to Work Survey Findings – Employers Taking a Cautious Approach to In-Person Work - American Society of Employers - Kevin Marrs

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ASE Releases COVID-19 Return to Work Survey Findings – Employers Taking a Cautious Approach to In-Person Work

34% of employers will return to work with a hybrid remote work model

ASE has released the results of our most recent COVID-19 Business Impact Survey.  The COVID-19 Return to Work Survey, launched on May 13, 2021 and examined employers’ plans around return to work.

The key to ending the pandemic will be to lower transmission rates of the virus.  A key element to that will be the population’s willingness and acceptance of the vaccine.  ASE’s data has consistently shown that few employers will mandate vaccinations.  Specific highlights from the COVID-19 Return to Work Survey include the following:


  • Among the 194 employers surveyed, just 1% of organization indicated that they would require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccine.  Slightly more than 80% indicated they will encourage employees to receive the vaccine, up from 60% from a similar survey conducted in January. 
  • Of the employers who plan to take formal steps to encourage employees to receive the vaccine, most (61.5%) cited plans to use existing communication tools to provide education around the vaccine.  Slightly more than 60% suggested that they will leverage communication from organizational leadership to encourage vaccination.
  • 38% of participants will provide paid time off to get a vaccine. 
  •  Most organizations (42.3%) are not auditing or surveying their workforce to determine the percentage of staff who have received a vaccine.

Return to Work

With the State of Michigan’s recent announcement that in-person work could resume starting May 24th, the focus for employers has been on determining when or if employees would be required to come back to the office.  The survey results revealed that just slightly more than 10% of those surveyed will require all or most of their staff to fully return to the workplace on or near May 24th.

Other highlights include:

  • Nearly 20% of those surveyed will start with a staggered approach on or near May 24th, where employees are initially required to return to the workplace for a minimum number of days per week and gradually increase to a full return to work.
  • Slightly more than a third of employers (34%) are planning for a more permanent hybrid remote work model, where employees only return to the workplace a few days a week.  Most companies will plan for at least two or three remote days per week as part of their remote model.
  • The data suggests that employers have identified June or September as their likely date to fully re-open for in-person work.  However, there remains nearly a third of employers (30.8%) who have yet to define when they will re-open their workplace to in-person work.

The data clearly suggests that the pandemic will likely have a lasting impact on remote work.  However, the immediate concern and challenge for employers is on striking the right balance and managing the employee expectations around remote work.

“In many settings, employees have grown accustomed to remote work and the flexibility it provides.  As a result, there will be hesitancy to return to the office, now or in the future.  Each organization will need to examine what works for their business and their culture.  The companies that effectively transition from the pandemic, whether they decide to embrace remote work or not, will be those who have proactively communicated with employees and work to manage expectations,” stated Mary E. Corrado, ASE President and CEO.  

For employer resources on handling the COVID-19 pandemic and remote work and for daily updates, please visit

A full copy of the COVID-19 Return to Work Survey results is available for ASE members in the ASE Member Dashboard.  Nonmember can request the full report here.


Additional ASE Resources
Webinar: Resource Tour – Retention & Return to Work
- In this month’s McLean & Company resource tour webinar, we’ll share the practical tools you can find in McLean & Company’s retention strategy research and then highlight tools that have been built to support projects in employee experience and return to work. Please come ready to share the challenges you’re facing with retention, employee experience, and return to work, as we will have time in this webinar to help make some specific recommendations of McLean & Company or ASE tools and resources to support your work.  June 18, 2021; 9:00 a.m. – 10:00 a.m.; register here.

ASE Contagious Diseases and Pandemic Toolkit - ASE members have access to the ASE Contagious Diseases and Pandemic Toolkit via the ASE Member Dashboard.  The toolkit contains over 50 tools (including a return-to-work plan), forms, and template policies as well as over 50 useful links for easy reference to local, state, and federal resources.  Non-members can request to purchase the toolkit here.


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