When (or if) Workers Will Return to the Office

25-Aug-2021 - USA

Amid the coronavirus resurgence, a new Korn Ferry survey of professionals shows growing uncertainty regarding when – and if – there will be a return to the office.

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While many companies had announced plans to re-open their offices after Labor Day, more than half (54 percent) of professionals say their companies have changed return-to-office plans in response to the increase in COVID cases.

When asked when they think they’ll go back to the office full-time, nearly one-quarter (22 percent) of respondents said it won’t be until 2022, and nearly one-third (32 percent) said “never.”

“Most organizations have been very successful at maintaining – or even improving - employee productivity during the transition to virtual work environments,” said Elise Freedman, Korn Ferry Organization Strategy and Workforce Transformation Practice Leader. “We’ve proven that being in the office is not mission critical to professionals getting their jobs done.”

Even when (and if) a full return eventually happens, there will be a shift in health protocols.

Nearly one-third (32 percent) of respondents say vaccines or negative COVID tests will be required before they are allowed to return, and 73 percent say masks will be required when inside the office.

“If employees feel their employers aren’t taking their well-being seriously enough, they will leave and find an employer who does,” said Freedman.

About the survey

378 professionals responded to the mid-August Korn Ferry survey

Survey responses

With the increase of COVID cases, has your company changed its return to the office plans?

Yes                                                      54 percent

No                                                       46 percent

When do you think you’ll go back to the office full-time?

This fall                                               13 percent

By the end of the year                        13 percent

2022                                                    22 percent

Already in the office full-time              20 percent

Never                                                  32 percent

Does your employer require a vaccination or a negative COVID test to return to the office?

Yes                                                      32 percent

No                                                       68 percent

Will you be/are you required to wear a mask while inside the office?

Yes                                                      73 percent

No                                                       27 percent

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