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I don’t want to go back: examining the return to physical workspaces during COVID-19.

Liu, Zihan; van Egdom, Drake; Flin, Rhona; Spitzmueller, Christiane; Adepoju, Omolola; Krishnamoorti, Ramanan


Zihan Liu

Drake van Egdom

Rhona Flin

Christiane Spitzmueller

Omolola Adepoju

Ramanan Krishnamoorti


Objective: We study employee perspectives on return to physical workspaces to ultimately inform employers’ and policy makers’ decision making around the return to work during COVID-19. Methods: We tested the three-component conceptual model using survey data collected in the United States in May 2020 from samples of energy workers (N = 333). Results: Females, non-Caucasians, and employees living in multi-generational households were less willing to return. Concerns about childcare were negatively related to willingness to return, whereas organizational strategies for mitigating COVID-19 transmission at work were positively related to willingness to return. COVID-19 infections in an employees’ network were also negatively related to employees’ willingness to return. Conclusions: Blanket policies may miss the nuanced needs of different employee groups. Employers and policy makers should adopt flexible approaches to ensure a return to workspaces that addresses employee concerns and needs.

Journal Article Type Article
Journal Journal of occupational and environmental medicine
Print ISSN 1076-2752
Publisher Lippincott, Williams & Wilkins
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Institution Citation LIU, Z., VAN EGDOM, D., FLIN, R., SPITZMUELLER, C., ADEPOJU, O. and KRISHNAMOORTI, R. [2020]. I don't want to go back: examining the return to physical workspaces during COVID-19. Journal of occupational and environmental medicine [online], Ahead of Print. Available from:
Keywords Return to work; COVID-19; Energy industry; Preventive measure