As More Technologists Return to Offices, Do They Feel Safe?

Welcome to the latest edition of Dice’s ongoing COVID-19 Sentiment Survey, in which we ask technologists’ opinions on everything from their job security to whether they’re heading back into the office. 

When we first conducted this survey, our respondents suggested they were generally optimistic about the (then-new) lockdown; they liked what their employers were doing to address the pandemic, and many were upbeat about their job security and workload. Five survey rounds later, these sentiments have changed relatively little: Technologists still like working from home, and they continue to trust their employers.

The steadiness of these responses suggests that, from chief executives down to brand-new technologists, there’s been a lot of resiliency and effective planning—and that’s despite some nationwide chaos around lockdowns and re-openings. Good job, everyone! And as you’ll see from the breakdowns below, there are some interesting nuances in the data to call out:

Are you going into the office for work?

This is the third time that we’ve asked this question of our respondents, and the answers revealed something interesting: Slightly fewer respondents have been heading in on a full-time basis, but the number of part-time returnees has risen slightly after a previous dip. The bottom line, though, is that a majority of respondents continue to work from home full-time, even as many companies across the country are preparing for employees’ eventual return

How safe do you feel working in the office?

As companies plan for those eventual re-openings, the percentage of technologists who feel extremely safe about working in the office (i.e., responding with a “5”) has dipped noticeably, while those who feel moderately safe has risen, and those feeling not-at-all safe has pretty much remained level. (Important side note: This question is only answered by those who said they’re working in the office.)

What does this mean? By parsing some of the respondents’ comments, it’s clear that some work in environments where the public congregates in some part of their facility—hospitals, for example. In such situations, it’s far more difficult to establish some of the protocols needed to keep the chances of infection at an absolute minimum, such as social distancing and frequent temperature checks. This could ultimately be at the root of many respondents’ slight concerns.

Overall, though, it’s important to emphasize that the substantial majority of technologists feel safe about their office. This ties directly into our other survey question about technologists’ faith in their management’s ability to handle everything COVID-related.

How much do you like working from home?

After many months of remote work, it’s clear that the substantial majority of technologists continue to enjoy working from home. And why not? By this point, most (if not virtually all) have adapted their workflows and schedules. In fact, the percentage of those who most-like working from home has crept up throughout the course of this survey. 

The weighted average for this question shows us that technologists have been liking remote work the more they do it. That’s good news, since it still might be some time before companies begin admitting employees back to the office. 

How much has your workload increased due to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A small but rising percentage of respondents indicate that their workload has been increasing over the course of COVID-19. For those technologists tasked with building, maintaining, and defending tech infrastructure—such as sysadmins and cybersecurity specialists—the past few months have been chaos. 

First, systems needed to be radically adjusted so that employees could work from home; in addition, many businesses needed e-commerce portals either built or refined quickly; and many cloud-based systems saw a surge of traffic. Now, as states and businesses debate when and how to reopen, many of these technologists are tasked with figuring out how to get people back to work, how to cycle up in-office tech infrastructure, and whether they need to mothball some of the resources and tools they set up to help them through the bulk of the crisis. It’s never a dull moment, in other words.

For many technologists, though, the workloads during the pandemic haven’t been overwhelming, which speaks to how capably many managers have guided their teams through this unique crisis. Hence, the weighted average hasn’t experienced any radical dips or swings:

How impressed have you been with your company’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

The majority of respondents remain impressed to some degree with their company’s response to COVID-19. Managers, executives, and team leaders ought to be proud of these percentages, which suggest that many companies’ crisis planning really worked out.

The flatness of the weighted average suggests that, as the pandemic grinds on, companies’ plans for handling it remain solid. As offices open up again and more employees head back in, it will be interesting to see whether this trend changes radically:

How much job security do you have?

Although the job market has seemed uncertain at moments, particularly for industries such as transportation, the majority of our respondents feel at least somewhat secure about their jobs. That speaks to technologists’ skills and experience, which are frequently necessary no matter what the broader macro-economic situation.

Feelings of job security have remained pretty steady throughout the pandemic, as shown by the weighted average:

Have you already, or do you plan to start looking for a new job in the next two weeks?

This is another survey question where the answers have held remarkably steady over the duration: Roughly two-thirds of respondents who are full-time employed have no intention of moving, while a third are seeing opportunity out there. With many companies desperate for certain kinds of technologists (such as cybersecurity experts), it’s no surprise that some highly specialized respondents think they can get a pretty good deal. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed what you think is important in a job? 

This is another question without a lot of fluctuation: Technologists continue to find the same things important that they did at the beginning of the shutdowns, such as remote work, company benefits, and (of course) salary:

It’s a similar story with the elements that they find less important. For example, some technologists continue to find their colleagues less important than before—perhaps no surprise, since everyone’s isolated at home. 

Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed how connected you feel to others?

The longer people remain self-isolated, the more connected they feel to family—after all, they can’t get away from them! 

At the same time, though, respondents are feeling less connected to colleagues and friends, whom they probably haven’t seen in months (in many cases):

One Response to “As More Technologists Return to Offices, Do They Feel Safe?”

  1. Thomas Swann

    I lost my UNIX job on 9/11 and never got another contract. Been living in Alaska doing odd jobs but no technology. I did buy a HP UNIX box so I still have a hand in it. But I’m retiring now. I can work for free now.