COVID-19 has brought countless changes, large and small, to the global workplace. But as time continues forward, the question becomes, what will the economy's "new normal" look like?

The results of MindEdge/Skye Learning's fourth annual Future of Work report indicates that most companies will require employees to be vaccinated as a condition of returning to work. Survey respondents also expect that many of the past year's changes -- including remote work, flexible hours, and strict health and safety protocols -- will remain in effect after the pandemic has ended.

MindEdge/Skye Learning's national survey of 830 American workers, who are employed at the level of manager or above, was conducted online during the week of January 11, 2021.

The top findings:

  • 54% of managers expect that their employees will be required to vaccinate before returning to the workplace
  • 74% think that things will be back to "normal" by the end of 2021
  • 46% of managers think that increased health and safety protocols will continue in effect
  • 35% expect that many employees will continue to work remotely

The survey results show what managers expect as the pandemic winds down: a majority (54%) think that their companies will require returning employees to be vaccinated against the coronavirus; 25% do not think their companies will require vaccinations, and 21% are not sure. Only 16% think that the economy will return to “normal” by this spring; 26% expect to see normal conditions by this summer, while 21% think it will take until the fall, and 11% don’t expect to see normal conditions until this winter. One-of-six (16%) say we won’t get back to normal until the spring of 2022, and 10% are not sure.

Looking ahead to the post-pandemic era, 46% of managers expect that their companies’ new health and safety protocols will remain in effect, and 35% expect that many workers will continue to work remotely. One-of-five (22%) say their companies will continue to enjoy a stronger corporate culture; 18% think that more flexible hours will remain in effect; 13% think that COVID-related workforce reductions will be made permanent; 7% think that their companies will keep a shorter work week; 7% think that their companies will continue with a weaker corporate culture; and 8% are not sure.