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Fear, Lack of Trust in Return to On-Site Work Amid Covid-19


More than half of U.S. adults (54%) cite barriers preventing them from returning to “brick-and-mortar” work locations during the ongoing pandemic, according to results from the latest American Staffing Association Workforce Monitor® online survey conducted by The Harris Poll among 2,055 U.S. adults age 18 and older.

Among those who cite obstacles to returning to work in an in-person setting, the top three are fear of catching Covid-19 at work or during commute (57%), preference to work at home (35%), and not yet being vaccinated (34%).

At the same time, nearly a quarter of U.S. adults (23%) say there are no barriers for them to return to work at an on-site location or they are already in that situation (13%).

Top Three Barriers to Returning to On-Site Work
  1. Fear of catching Covid-19 at work or during commute (57%)
  2. Preference to work at home (35%)
  3. Not being vaccinated for Covid-19 yet (34%)

There is also a divide about who to trust to assure it is safe to go back to working on site during the Covid-19 pandemic. Four in 10 U.S. adults (42%) say they would trust federal, state, or local government sources to assure them that an on-site work location is safe, while more than one in three (36%) listen to work-related sources like the employer/company leadership, direct supervisors, or colleagues. Around three in 10 cite health and safety inspectors of the work location (28%) and medical personnel (27%) as sources they would trust to assure them it is safe to return to work on site during the pandemic. Less than 1 in 10 say they would trust the news media (7%), social media (7%), and celebrities or influencers (4%) to assure them it is safe to return.

Notably, one in five U.S. adults (21%) say they wouldn’t trust any source regarding whether or not it is safe to return to brick-and-mortar work locations during the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The ASA Workforce Monitor findings show that employers are among the top resources that U.S. workers listen to when making decisions about returning to on-site job locations,” said Richard Wahlquist, ASA president and chief executive officer. “However, with some saying they don’t trust any sources about safely returning to work, employers must make it a top priority to clearly communicate the return-to-work safety protocols and procedures that have been put in place to ensure employee safety and well-being.”

To learn more about the ASA Workforce Monitor, visit You can also follow ASA research on Twitter.


The Harris Poll conducted the survey online within the U.S. on behalf of ASA March 25–29, 2021, among a total of 2,055 U.S. adults age 18 and older. Results were weighted on age, gender, education, race/ethnicity, household income, marital status, household size, and geographic region where necessary to bring them into line with their actual proportions in the U.S. population. In addition, the data were adjusted for differences between the online and offline populations.


About the American Staffing Association (ASA)

The American Staffing Association is the voice of the U.S. staffing, recruiting, and workforce solutions industry. ASA and its state affiliates advance the interests of the industry across all sectors through advocacy, research, education, and the promotion of high standards of legal, ethical, and professional practices. For more information about ASA, visit

About the ASA Workforce Monitor

The ASA Workforce Monitor is a periodic survey commissioned by ASA and conducted online by The Harris Poll among 2,000 or more U.S. adults age 18 and older. The survey series focuses on current workforce trends and issues. For more information about the survey series, visit

About The Harris Poll

The Harris Poll is one of the longest running surveys in the U.S.—tracking public opinion, motivations, and social sentiment since 1963—that is now part of Harris Insights & Analytics, a global consulting and market research firm that delivers social intelligence for transformational times. To learn more, visit

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