Nostalgic for 2019: Three in four Americans worry life will never go back to ‘normal’

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NEW YORK — Remember the good old days, way back in 2019? It’s an odd feeling to be nostalgic for a time that just passed, but according to a new survey of 2,000 Americans, many among us are worried the world will never return to its simpler, pre-coronavirus state.

All in all, 75% of surveyed Americans said they fear life will never return to what was once “normal.”

The survey, commissioned by Torch, asks respondents how they envision the world will appear in the wake of COVID-19. One overarching theme that participants echo is just how different the workplace, and employment in general, will be.

As of now, 59% of surveyed Americans admit they would be far too afraid to start reporting to a shared workplace once again. Meanwhile, 36% have concerns they’ll never be able to get back to the office without potentially putting themselves and their family in harm’s way.

In broader terms, 63% of participants flat out say their job will never the be the same. That same group is anticipating working remotely for at least the rest of 2020.

New norm for Americans: Working remotely

Interestingly, when asked about their manager or boss, 60% shares the belief that their supervisor didn’t handle the transition to remote work quite as well as he or she should have. Also, 67% think their employer doesn’t understand how hard it is to work from home, especially for parents.

Of course, parent or not, it seems pretty much everyone is feeling more on edge these days. Most survey participants (64%) don’t feel as productive as they should be due to intrusive feelings of pandemic-related anxiety.

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Even when offices do eventually re-open, there’s still the major problem of commuting to consider; 70% of respondents say just the thought of using public transit stresses them out. Similarly, another 64% think their employer should be much more flexible regarding remote work, even when offices are fully reopened.

Is there any way to improve productivity while working from home? Somewhat surprisingly, 70% of Americans wouldn’t mind talking to a work coach to help with efficiency.

Close to 75% of survey participants believe handshakes are now a relic of the past. Another 45% think companies should start administering temperature checks before office entrance is permitted.

What will the post-coronavirus office look like?

Other popular responses when asked about the biggest changes in post-coronavirus American offices included more virtual meetings (43%); no hugs, or physical contact of any kind allowed (41%); and even doing away with a physical office entirely and transitioning fully to remote work all the time (38%).

Companies downsizing and moving into smaller offices (33%), less business travel (33%), less office parties/events (32%), and less visitors allowed (30%) were all frequent responses to that question as well.

What about new employees and the entire hiring process? Three quarters of respondents believe companies will start instituting fully virtual candidate screening and interview procedures.

Additionally, 53% of Americans long for the days when masks and gloves were only needed on construction sites. Another 52% just want to return to work in an office and feel safe. More than a third (36%) simply wish they could stop worrying about infecting their family.

The survey was conducted by OnePoll.

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