SALT LAKE CITY — Millions of Americans have spent more than a year working remotely as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and now that there's an end in sight, many employers are faced with an important decision: How do we go back to the office?
With vaccine rollout amping up across the U.S., and all residents eligible to receive the vaccines in Utah, it's possible employers could look into requiring vaccination before allowing employees to return to the office —and new research from Qualtrics shows that 66% of employees would support their companies in implementing a mandatory vaccination policy.
"As companies look to the future, they need to capture insights to help them determine how to reopen offices, implement safety measures, and gauge employee and customer comfort with vaccine mandates," said Jay Choi, chief product officer for Qualtrics.
But of the 1,000 individuals surveyed across the U.S., 19% did say they would strongly consider quitting if their employers mandated vaccines.
About 84% of Democrat respondents supported a vaccine mandate, compared to about 50% of Republicans; although Republican participants were more likely to feel neutral about the issue, according to the data.
Of those working remotely due to COVID-19, 73% supported mandated vaccination. That number dropped to 55% for those who did not transition to working from home in the pandemic.
Those working remotely were also more likely to feel unsafe returning to work, with 51% in that group saying they felt safe returning to work compared to 65% of those working in-person.
In the tech industry, 26% of respondents actually felt the opposite and said they would consider leaving if their employer did not require vaccinations for in-office work. Those in the financial and tech industries were also more likely to support a vaccine mandate, with 80% saying they would support an employer requiring vaccination before returning to the office.
On the consumer end of things, 63% of respondents said they would support businesses that required in-person employees to get the shot and another 53% said they were actually more likely to shop at businesses with vaccine mandates for employees.
Despite support for requiring vaccinations, a majority of respondents said their employers won't require shots before returning to the office. However, 45% of employees did say they would prefer to wait until they are able to get the vaccine before returning to in-person work regardless of their employer's vaccine rules.
"Insights like these are good for business and help companies deliver better experiences in the future of work," Choi said.
In Utah, a bill was recently signed by Gov. Spencer Cox barring government agencies from mandating vaccinations for employees.
"So while we want to be encouraging everyone to get a vaccine, while we want to be educating people about the benefits of getting the COVID vaccine, we don't want to be mandating from the government that people receive the COVID-19 vaccine," HB308's sponsor, Rep. Robert Spendlove, R-Sandy, said on the House floor in February.
According to a February poll from Deseret News/Hinckley Institute of Politics, just 12% of Utahns refuse to ever get vaccinated while two-thirds of Utahns say they will get vaccinated as soon as they are able to.