Companies Turning Tail on Return-to-Office Plans (REPORT)


Return to Work


New data reveals five major findings that are dramatically shaping the future of work.

Robby Brumberg, Ragan Communications

The pandemic continues to transform traditional notions of work in rather astounding ways. And the data increasingly shows there may be no going back to the old way of doing things.

A new survey published by The Conference Board reveals that nearly half of businesses have not communicated plans for returning to a brick-and-mortar workplace. The survey also finds that just 9% of employees are currently working in an office full time.

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And it may be the way for the foreseeable future. The data shows that concerns about contracting COVID-19 and exposing family members to the virus have doubled over the last seven months. Meanwhile, engagement and mental health scores continue to decline.

Major findings—culled from more than 2,000 U.S. workers—include:

1. Return-to-office plans continue to stall.

Seventy-one percent of companies changed return-to-the-workplace plans due to the recent surges.

  • The recent rise of COVID-19 cases resulted in 71 percent of respondents’ companies delaying plans to return to the workplace or reverting to remote/hybrid work.
    • 30 percent were back in the workplace and reverted to remote/hybrid work.
    • 41 percent rescheduled or cancelled plans to return.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) have not determined a date to return to the physical workplace.

Just 9% of survey respondents are in a physical office full time.

  • Less than one in 10 survey respondents, who are primarily knowledge workers, are in the office full time.
  • Forty-six percent are fully remote.
  • Forty-five percent work a hybrid schedule, with some days remote and some in the office.

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