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Office-Using Employees Will Return in Waves After COVID-19

National  + Weekender  | 

How will office use get back up to speed when the health and safety concerned posed by COVID-19 have diminished? Judging by a CoreNet Global survey of corporate real estate professionals at large corporations, workers will return in waves, as opposed to all returning at once.

Eighty-four percent of respondents surveyed earlier this month indicated that they plan to bring employees back gradually. Only 16% reported plans to bring all employees back at the same time. The corporate real estate professionals cited a variety of methods in determining which employees will return:

• “Those with the greatest need to be in the office will be the first to return.”
• “Expanded work hours and shifts to allow for thinner numbers to be in the office.”
• “We will bring 20% of our staff back two weeks after the stay-at-home order is lifted, then an additional 20% every two weeks.”
• “We are likely to use alternating weeks; social distancing must be respected.”
• “We will utilize only every other seat to maintain six feet of social distancing.”
• “Anyone high risk will be encouraged to continue working from home.”
• “We will encourage many to continue working from home.”

Opinions were more mixed as to when returning will begin. Thirty-five percent of respondents anticipated that employees will begin returning to the office next month, while 30% believed it will be June 2020 or later. Some 33% said it’s simply too early to say.

Sixty-five percent of survey respondents report that they will consider it safe to return to the office when government stay-at-home orders expire. About one in four respondents said certain country, state or local thresholds must be met, such as no confirmed new cases for 14 days.

Respondents indicated that protocols put in place during the pandemic are likely to continue afterward. Seventy-two percent of survey respondents think that additional cleaning protocols will still be in place six months after employees return to the office, followed by continued emphasis on hand-washing (68%), limits on in-person group meetings (36%), continuing social distancing rules with six feet of separation (30%) and expanded work hours and other strategies to limit the number of people in the office at one time (25%).

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About Paul Bubny

Paul Bubny serves as Senior Content Director for Connect Commercial Real Estate, a role to which he brings 13-plus years’ experience covering the commercial real estate industry and 30-plus years in business-to-business journalism. In this capacity, he oversees daily operations while also reporting on both local/regional markets and national trends, covering individual transactions across all property types, as well as delving into broader subject matter. He produces 15-20 daily news stories per day and works with the Connect team and clients to develop longer-form content, ranging from Q&As to thought-leadership pieces. Prior to joining Connect, Paul was Managing Editor for both Real Estate Forum and at American Lawyer Media, where he oversaw operations at both publications while also producing daily news and feature-length articles. His tenure in B2B publishing stretches back into the print era, and he has served as Editor in Chief on four national trade publications. Since 1999, Paul has volunteered as the newsletter editor of passenger rail advocacy groups (one national, one local).