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Coronavirus: Most British Columbians are nervous to return to work, poll suggests

Childcare and flexible work arrangements are going to be key to getting women back to work after many have been forced to take on disproportionate care duties during the pandemic, a new report says.
Childcare and flexible work arrangements are going to be key to getting women back to work after many have been forced to take on disproportionate care duties during the pandemic, a new report says. Getty

A new poll shows many British Columbians are nervous about returning to the workplace as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

The poll, conducted by Insights West, shows only 20 per cent of workers are “very comfortable” with the prospect of returning to the workplace with 43 per cent feeling “somewhat comfortable.”

Thirty-seven per cent do not feel comfortable with returning the workplace.

British Columbia is at the end of Phase 2 of the provincial economic reopening plan and at the beginning of Phase 3.

Read more: B.C. is preparing to enter Phase 3 of its COVID-19 restart plan. What does that mean?

The poll found males were more likely to feel comfortable returning to the workplace (71 per cent) versus only 58 per cent of women.

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The major concern among workers is trying to comply with physical distancing rules and catching COVID-19 from a co-worker or customer.

Only 44 per cent of those polled were concerned about their company not taking enough precautions to keep them safe.

Thirteen per cent say they would return to work now if it were up to them and a further 18 per cent would go back in September. Nineteen per cent say they would choose to stay home permanently if given the choice.

“In the early days of the pandemic, I read a prediction about COVID-19 making a long-lasting radical change to workplaces,” Steve Mossop, president of Insights West, said in a release. “And now I believe that this is not a temporary blip on the horizon, but this pandemic could permanently alter how we live and work for years to come. This could have drastic implications for commercial real estate in the years to come, company team-building and socialization, and the infrastructure needed to support productivity in the workplace.”

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Results are based on an online study conducted from June 18 to 21, 2020 among a sample of 879 B.C. residents. The margin of error—which measures sample variability—is +/- 3.3 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Discrepancies between totals are due to rounding.