What We Asked in our Employee Survey to Prep for the Post-COVID Workplace

During the second quarter of 2021, COVID-19 vaccinations ramped up and restrictions on indoor gatherings eased, leading many employers to begin thinking of reopening offices on a full-time basis. But what do employees think about coming back to the office after spending more than a year working remotely or in a hybrid situation?

Why an Employee Survey Should be Part of your Post-COVID Planning

Reopening offices is not the time to take an authoritarian approach with your employees. Communication is vital and should be transparent. Your employees want to know what you are thinking. Explain that changes have occurred because of the pandemic and, because of those changes, the company would like their input and opinions to prepare for the post-COVID workplace.  

This is a time when your employees are anxious and concerned about a reopening of the office. While some employees may wish to return to the office full-time, a significant percentage will want the flexibility to work from home all or some of the time. For many employees, pandemic work-from-home policies have allowed them to make positive changes in their lives; for example, reclaiming time previously spent commuting to and from work has enabled them to spend more time with their families or created more flexible schedules that allows them a more positive work-life balance.

Goals and Best Practices of a Post-COVID Employee Survey

A comprehensive employee survey will provide you with valuable insight into your employees’ thoughts and concerns about returning to the office post-COVID. A survey will also allow you to identify areas to address in preparing the office for reopening. These areas could include an inventory of equipment and furniture; department reviews, i.e., who will be in the office and when; planning for higher traffic/occupancy days in the office; and how video tools will be utilized to allow remote teams to be present in meetings and conferences.  

Line up a task force and have a strong HR voice in creating your employee survey. Think carefully about what questions you want to ask. Do not provide options you will not consider granting. For example, do not ask employees whether they would like to work remotely 100% of the time if you would not consider allowing them to do so.  

You’ll also need to take care to indicate to your employees that the survey responses will be taken into consideration but there are no guarantees they will be provided with the work schedule or arrangements they select in the survey.  

What We Asked in Our Own Post-COVID Employee Survey

Here at OperationsInc, we recently deployed our own survey to gather our employees’ input into reopening our office post-COVID. Their responses will help our leadership make the best possible decisions for reopening our office in 2021.  

These are the questions we included. 

Survey questions about safety: 

  • Have you been vaccinated? 
  • Do you plan to get the vaccine?  
  • Would your mode of transportation to the office pose a significant risk for COVID exposure?  
  • In what month would you feel ready to return to the office?  
  • If you are not comfortable returning to the workplace, what factors are impacting your decision?  
  • Do you feel safe and supported coming back to work?  
  • Are you comfortable traveling to and working from client offices?  
  • Would you require accommodation to return to the office?

Survey questions about productivity: 

  • If you are comfortable returning to work, will you be available to work the same hours you did before we left the office?  
  • Is your role conducive for working from home?  
  • Do you have defined metrics for success for your role?  
  • Do you have adequate access to your boss and team members while working remotely?  
  • Are your remote meetings as productive as when you are in the office?  
  • What has been the most positive part of working remotely for you?  
  • What has been the most challenging part of working remotely for you?  

Survey questions about employees’ homes and home offices:  

  • Have you relocated? Temporarily or permanently? To where?  
    • If you are working remotely in a different state from your office, do you feel your tax implications have been addressed properly?  
  • Are there other adults working from home in your household?  
  • We are aware that some of our team members will run into issues with childcare that will impact their ability to work from the office.  
    • If you have children, have they returned to school?  
    • Do you have adequate childcare?  
    • If not, how long do you anticipate having issues with childcare?  
  • Which of the following best describes your home office setup?  
    • Dedicated room 
    • Shared space (e.g., dining room, kitchen) 
    • I have no dedicated space/work from different spaces  
  • What equipment do you lack today for you to be fully operational from home?

Survey questions about employees’ mindsets, preferences, and views: 

  • If given the choice, would you want to work remotely 100% of the time? Some of the time?  
  • What would be your ideal schedule for a hybrid work week?  
  • If given the choice between working REMOTELY 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. each day or working 8+ hours over a 12-hour window (e.g., 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day), which would be your preference?  
  • How satisfied are you with our announced efforts to maintain a safe work environment for employees?  

What You’ll Learn in a Post-COVID Employee Survey

In surveying your employees, you can learn whether they have been vaccinated or plan to get vaccinated and whether they have the appropriate home office setup. An appropriate home office would consist of a dedicated workspace, ergonomic desk and chair to prevent back and joint injuries, the proper tech setup with adequate internet speed, and all the equipment they need to be productive: computers, monitors, headsets, webcams, and so on 

You also need to take into consideration employees who moved out of the commutable distance from the office during the pandemic, and a survey will identify those employees, especially if they haven’t informed the company of their move. Do the company benefits cover that market? Will you have to register as a business in another state? Does the employee’s pay stay benchmarked to your office site or to their new location?  

A survey will help identify the roles which will be able to continue working remotely, hybrid, or full-time in-office. Knowing this will enable you to determine how best to use physical spaces and equipment in the office.  

Gaining a perspective on the post-COVID workplace isn’t simple or easy, but it is necessary.

Download a list of survey questions OperationsInc used in our employee survey.