A solid majority of American workers were already working from home by the end of March, many of them transitioning from office buildings in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Now that states are reopening their economies, will we see a similar transition back to traditional workplaces? As the pollster Gallup puts it, “putting the remote-work genie back in the bottle” may not be so simple.

“Now that some of these employees may be able to return to their workplace, it appears only a quarter are emotionally ready,” Gallup writers Adam Hickman, Ph.D., and Lydia Saad state in an article on the Gallup website. “Another quarter are reluctant to return specifically because of concerns about contracting COVID-19, while half have a personal preference for working remotely.”

According to Gallup Panel data, the dramatic increase in remote work leveled off in mid-April, with 62% saying they were working from home compared to 31% at the beginning of the pandemic.

More recently, Gallup asked remote workers about their preferences for getting back to the office once restrictions are lifted. Here’s what it found:

  • 26% of remote workers said if it were up to them, they would return to their office or workplace once businesses and schools reopen.
  • 25% said they would rather work from home because of concerns about the coronavirus, but would rather return to their regular workplace once those concerns subside.
  • The other half of remote workers say that if it were up to them, they would continue to work from home, with 22% saying simply that they prefer it and 27% citing concerns about the coronavirus in addition to preferring remote work.

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