Delta Variant Hasn’t Yet Changed Many Return-to-Office Plans
Even though many tech companies are announcing delays in their return-to-office dates for the Delta variant, it appears most companies’ plans have not changed yet, according to several weeks of surveys from Morning Consult.
Every week for three weeks, Morning Consult asked a nationally representative panel of 1,000 adult American workers when their employer planned to return them to their workplace full or part time. The first poll began on July 16 and ended last Thursday.
The most recent revealed that most of the workers were already in the office. Eight percent of workers said their company has adopted a permanent work-from-home policy. And 7 percent said their companies had yet to announce a policy.
Of the remaining workers – people working from home, but planning to return eventually, part-time or full-time – 19% said they would be back by September.
Only 2% of those surveyed said their return to office date was October. The number of people who indicated their return date was in November and December rounded to zero. And only 1% said it was in 2022.
“September is always a starting point for workers to get back to work,” said John Leer, economist at Morning Consult. “The anxieties that we are seeing have not yet spread to the workplace at large. “
The survey was not able to break down workers by industry, but it does contain information on education. The division of the survey by level of education shows that as the level of education increases, there is a significant decrease in the share of workers who are in the office. Yet even among workers with graduate degrees, return dates are still concentrated in August and September.
These results reflect the policies of the company to the knowledge of the workers, but they do not reveal what the leaders of the company think. This distinction is important, according to Nicholas Bloom, an economist at Stanford University who has closely studied plans for a return to power. “If I was the CEO and wasn’t sure when Labor Day was back, I would keep the cards close to my chest for maybe a week or so to see how things go,” he said. -he declares.
That’s because it’s costly to change company policy on a return-to-office date, and it’s even more expensive if the return-to-office turns out to have been too early.
Developing a return to office policy is difficult. This forces executives to monitor the development of the virus, monitor the attitudes of their workers and address the thorny legal and personal issues surrounding the virus, said Tsedal Neeley, a Harvard Business School professor who studies remote working.
“Businesses are grappling with the question: do you require vaccines? Is it legal? If you mandate it, how do you do it? If you don’t, how will you make sure everyone feels safe psychologically and physically? Said Professor Neeley.
For Professor Bloom, the barometer of where office work will go is technology: “As with anything to do with working from home in this pandemic, technology has dominated first. They were the first to switch to the hybrid, first to delay the return to the office last year, first to impose vaccines this year and probably first to delay the return until the year next. “
But not all companies can afford the same flexibility that technology companies have. To some, delaying may seem more costly.
Kathryn Wylde, who is president of the New York City Partnership and has spoken to more than 30 companies with offices in New York City, said by now all are just looking at what works for them individually. “It’s a mess,” she said. “Everyone makes their own decisions. And I think everyone is in trouble.
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