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New Qualtrics Study Finds more than 60% in Southeast Asia Say They are Not Comfortable Returning to the Workplace Right Now

Qualtrics, the leader in customer experience and creator of the experience management category, today announced findings from its Return to Work & Back to Business Study, which found the majority of workers across age groups, spanning Boomers to Gen Z, in Thailand and Malaysia are uncomfortable going back to the workplace at present. 

The survey asked 509 respondents in both countries, including 150 Thai nationals, how confident they felt about returning to the workplace or visiting public establishments right now—and what it would take for them to feel comfortable doing so.

While 62% of workers expect to return to the workplace by July, over half say a treatment (58%) or vaccine (61%) must be approved for them to feel comfortable returning to the workplace.

“With lockdown measures starting to lift, we are beginning to see businesses and workplaces reopen and return to normal. But as this occurs employers and businesses need to remember the pace with which they are re-opening might not match their employees’ or customers’ readiness to return,” says Mao Gen Foo, Head of Southeast Asia.

“Employee and customer expectations have accelerated at an unprecedented rate in recent months, with more than half of respondents across Thailand and Malaysia feeling uncomfortable about returning. Organisations and governments need to understand how employee and customer behaviours and attitudes have changed so that they can take actions helping them feel confident during this next phase of the 'new normal’. It is crucial that businesses are able to unlock insights around employee and customer confidence at each stage of the transition to drive necessary business actions – and this is where tools like the Qualtrics Return to Work Pulse will have a distinct advantage in this uncertain and rapidly changing period,” added Foo.

Returning to work – key findings
The survey found that before they feel ready to return to work, employees in Southeast Asia want their employers to put the following safety practices in place:

  • 83% of workers want all employees to be required to wear masks
  • 82% want hand sanitizer and cleaning supplies available throughout the office
  • 67% want social distancing enforced
  • 63% want temperature checks required
  • 62% want policies against handshakes and hugs at work

Once they do return to work, employees said they would feel more comfortable if the following measures are taken by their employer to protect themselves and their co-workers:

  • 96% of people said it was important to them to limit the number of people in an in-person work meeting
  • 98% of people said it was important to them that employees be required to wear masks
  • 96% of people said it was important to them that they are allowed to work remotely at any point if they feel unsafe
  • 97% of people said it was important to them that everyone has their temperature checked each day before entering the building
  • 97% of people said it was important to them that social distancing was implemented in the workplace

Getting back to business – key findings

Despite restrictions starting to ease, people still don’t feel confident interacting with each other and 32% think we will never “get back to normal”.

Live concert and sporting events: Right now, most people are uncomfortable with attending a live sporting event (73%) and live concert (71%). Nearly 1 in 4 people (25%) who regularly attend sporting events said they are unlikely to attend in the foreseeable future, even once spectating is allowed. Furthermore, close to half (48%) of people said they would not be comfortable going to a live sporting event until at least January 2021. Meanwhile, 59% of people said they would not be comfortable going to a live concert until at least January 2021.

Restaurants and shopping: 60% of people still feel uncomfortable going to a restaurant, while 36% feel the same about shopping retail in-person. When businesses reopen, there is no guarantee that people will come back.

Even after public health officials say it’s safe, and a treatment or vaccine for the virus is readily available, there are a number of measures people want to see in place before they feel comfortable dining at a restaurant:

  • 12% want tables separated at a safe distance
  • 12% want social distancing established
  • 12% want servers and staff to wear gloves and masks
  • 11% want their temperatures checked before going into the restaurant

Flights and public transit: When it comes to public transport, 67 per cent of people feel uncomfortable using it right now, and 73 per cent would feel uncomfortable flying on an airplane.

“Results reveal most consumers do not yet feel comfortable to return. It means as measures lift and businesses continue to reopen in the coming weeks and months, it’s essential they can understand how customers feel. Identifying the measures customers want to see implemented allows businesses to take action in the areas that matter most. Capturing feedback from frontline staff and digital channels will equip organisations with the data they need to cultivate consumer trust and confidence, and ultimately move forward,” added Foo.

Since the beginning of March, Qualtrics has launched more than 13 free solutions to help organisations uncover the insights they need to move forward. The latest additions include four new solutions enabling businesses to determine the right way to transition employees back to the workplace and ensure customer confidence as they reopen businesses. They are immediately available at qualtrics.com/back-to-business-employee and qualtrics.com/back-to-business-customer.

The free Qualtrics solutions have supported more than 31,000 projects across more than 8,500 organisations.

The study was conducted on Qualtrics CoreXM(TM), an industry-leading platform where organisations can manage and take action on experience data (X-data)—the thoughts, emotions, and intents of stakeholders.