According to a new survey conducted by the World Economic Forum and Ipsos, there is widespread support among workers across the globe for workplace mandates to control the spread of COVID. The survey reports that on average, about three in four employed adults agree that everyone in their workplace should be fully vaccinated (78%), undergo frequent testing if unvaccinated (74%), and wear a mask in common areas (81%). A majority of workers in most countries (averaging 62% globally) would not feel comfortable going to work if such measures were not in place.

“Staying the course with safety measures that we know make a difference—vaccines, masks, testing—is incredibly important as we navigate this complex pandemic,” said Genya Dana, head of Health and Healthcare at the World Economic Forum. “We know that employers have had to assume many new responsibilities with regard to worker health and wellbeing since the start of the pandemic, and count on them as a trusted partner in this journey.”

The survey also highlights wide differences in COVID and workplace-related behavior and attitudes globally. Support for vaccination, testing, and mask-wearing mandates is generally highest in Eastern and Southern Asia, Saudi Arabia, and Latin America; the lowest support for mandates is in the U.S. and in Central, Eastern, and Northern Europe.

According to the survey, the countries where workers are most supportive of workplace vaccination mandates are also those where workers are most likely to say they would get vaccinated if required to do so to keep their jobs. While on average globally about two-thirds of workers (68%) said they would get vaccinated in this scenario, four in five said so in China, Singapore, and South Korea, while only half did in Russia, Poland, and Romania. Globally, only 12% of workers would choose frequent testing instead.

In Russia, Turkey, and the Netherlands the proportion of workers who would seek to evade getting vaccinated or tested, while still keeping their jobs, is about double the global average of 9%. In Romania, Hungary, and the U.S., more than twice as many say they would quit their job or find another than on average (5%). Globally, the survey found that older workers and highly educated workers are more likely to say they would get vaccinated.

In only seven of the countries surveyed would a majority of workers still be comfortable going to work if no protective mandates were in place. These countries are Russia, Poland, Denmark, Hungary, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.S. In China, where only 12% of workers say they would be comfortable in this scenario, two-thirds said they would quit their job (18%) or work remotely instead (48%). Other countries where at least 40% would either resign or work remotely in the absence of protective measures include Malaysia, Spain, South Korea, Japan, and Peru.

The survey found that in general, fewer employed adults are currently working from outside their homes than before the pandemic (66% vs. 77% on average globally), although there is significant disparity across different countries. Countries where the drop in out-of-home work was most notable compared to pre-pandemic levels included Peru, Singapore, Great Britain, and Chile. Interestingly, three countries reported an increase in out-of-home work levels since the pandemic started: China, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia.  There were also several countries where out-of-home work increased by around ten percentage points since June 2021: Argentina, Chile, India, France, the Netherlands, and Sweden.  

Ipsos conducted the 33-country survey on its Global Advisor online platform. Ipsos interviewed a total of 14,401 employed adults aged 18-74 in the United States, Canada, Malaysia, South Africa, and Turkey, and 16-74 in the other 27 countries. The survey was conducted between October 22 and November 5 of 2021. Ity took place a few weeks before the emergence of the Omicron variant, which may have new implications for workplace restrictions and habits.

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