Welcome to the latest edition of Dice’s ongoing Sentiment Survey, in which we ask technologists how they’re doing amidst the pandemic-related lockdowns (and, at this point, the gradual re-openings). It’s been quite the journey over the past five months, filled with lots of highs and lows, but one thing has remained consistent: Technologists are pretty satisfied overall with working from home.

Although spikes in infections have led some states to temporarily halt their re-opening plans, many offices are still proceeding with their strategies for getting employees back into the office. In light of that, we’ve begun to ask our survey respondents about their feelings regarding office re-entry, and that’s generated some interesting points that we’ll discuss below. 

Are you going into the office for work?

A rising percentage of technologists have been going into the office on either a part-time or full-time basis. That’s unsurprising, but it also seems that many businesses are taking the re-entry process slow—which makes total sense, as lots of precautions must be taken to protect workers. 

Also, after all the effort involved in ensuring employees can work effectively from home, some businesses might be reluctant to undertake a similar, equally difficult effort to bring the collective workflow back in-office. You can’t just flip a switch and expect everything to seamlessly revert to what it was like in mid-February; you need to train employees on new procedures, triple-check that all in-office equipment is up and running, and make sure that those in the office can collaborate well with those off-site. 

As you can see from this next visualization, it’s clear that the trend toward re-entering the office is gaining quite a bit of steam. But will a rising rate of infections in the U.S. South and West force many offices to temporarily pause their plans?

How safe do you feel working in the office?

As more offices re-open, employees are feeling far less neutral about their safety. While the percentages of those who feel either extremely safe or not at all safe have remained relatively level, those feeling pretty unsafe (i.e., a 2) and pretty safe (i.e., a 4) have both experienced upticks of varying sizes.

The reason behind this is pretty simple: As the prospect of moving back to the office transforms from an abstract into a reality, employees are going to feel one way or another about it. Some are even a bit cynical: “I was sick in March, before the lockdown, at a time when ‘masks weren’t effective,’ according to CDC, WHO, and the U.S. Surgeon General… it’s all a game,” one respondent wrote. Hopefully hand-sanitizer stations, closed-down common areas, and other steps will make such technologists feel a bit better. 

Fortunately, over half of respondents feel safe, suggesting that employers are taking all the right precautions when it comes to opening up that office space again.

When you take the weighted average of responses over the past few surveys, though, it's clear that the number of technologists who feel pretty safe about their offices has remained relatively stable. That's excellent news for companies, as it hints they're doing a good job of informing their employees about the anti-virus steps they're taking.

What Precautions Does Your Office Have in Place?

In general, it seems that almost all companies are requiring that employees wear masks; many are also engaging in a regular cleaning-and-disinfecting protocol within the office. Far fewer, however, have shifted work schedules, subjected employees to health questionnaires, or enforced COVID-19 testing.

"My office does have more of these as requirements however only the temperature checks have ever been enforced," one respondent wrote. The diligence of employers in sanitizing office space will likely have a massive impact on how safe employees feel going forward. At the very least, "communal amenities" such as shared kitchens or break rooms may be shut down for quite some time.

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

In general, a majority of technologists remain impressed with how their companies have navigated the current crisis, although the percentage of those extremely impressed (i.e., 5) has declined noticeably over the past several surveys. That could reflect some technologists’ anxieties over companies’ re-opening plans.

“They’re going over the top for political reasons,” one respondent wrote. “It’s annoying how much power they’re giving up. It’s setting a bad precedent.” While such responses aren’t indicative of technologists’ overall positive sentiment, it hints that companies must continue to work to maintain that trust with their workers, especially as we head into crucial months with regard to reopening. For any company, it's potentially difficult to find the right tone and messaging, in addition to implementing the right safety procedures.

Technologists’ opinion of their employers’ COVID-19 response has remained pretty level over the duration of the survey, with the slightest of downticks in recent weeks:

How much job security do you have?

Technologists are still generally upbeat about their job security. These percentages have barely budged over the past few months; whether they’re maintaining a company’s tech infrastructure or cybersecurity, or building apps and websites, technologists know they’re playing a vital role in companies’ ability to navigate through the pandemic. 

Although it's difficult to say definitively, there's always the possibility that a heightened sense of job security is making technologists feel safe enough to explore landing another position. After all, if you're not worried about your current stability, you're more amenable to take chances to achieve your career dreams.

Throughout the twists and turns of the crisis, technologists’ feelings of job security have remained remarkably steady:

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

In an interesting twist, a rising number of technologists who are employed full-time are looking for a new position. Why is that? As we mentioned in the context of the job-security question above, perhaps they feel like it’s a good time for a change, or they’re seeing fresh opportunities in an employment landscape altered by COVID-19.

For those who are anxious to explore what the current job market has to offer, it’s important to remember to tailor one’s résumé and application materials to reflect some of the current realities of remote work.  

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

As the COVID-19 crisis drags on, technologists find remote work, effective leadership, and job security creeping up in value, while qualities such as “company aligning with my personal values” have lost ground. During uncertain times, it’s no surprise that technologists would focus on what will keep them healthy and employed in the long-term. 

Optimizing remote work has become a particular focus of technologists (for obvious reasons). Fortunately, a variety of surveys and studies have shown that technologists are generally amenable to it, from the tiniest startups all the way up to the largest tech firms. In addition, those technologists currently on the job hunt have been taking care to emphasize their remote-work skills and accomplishments, since that's something employers are focusing on.

In a similar vein, technologists have gradually come to view elements such as the ability to be creative at work as less important. When you’re helping your company navigate through an intense pandemic, you tend to focus on the things you view as essential.  

Visit our COVID-19 Resource Center, which aims to provide the tech community with the best, most up-to-date information on the novel coronavirus.