Companies have a return-to-work plan in motion

A year ago and an epidemic, pouring out of offices, including recently built skyscrapers, and restaurants, bars and sports venues, the Central Business District in Charlotte, NC filled more than 100,000 people. Then as soon as the coronovirus sent employees to their homes, much of the city center quickly became quiet and dark.

The return of those employees to their offices is stalled and difficult. Last fall, the Fifth Third Bank began to bring workers back, but it soon turned upside down. LendingTree, which is moving from the suburbs to the city, is waiting for the end of the school year. Wells Fargo has delayed its staff several times to return to office, having recently stated that they would continue to work remotely through at least 1 May. Duke Energy will bring back some employees in June, and most 6,000 people at its headquarters in September, when children should be able to return to schools.

Corporate officials across the country are wrestling with the way to reopen the office as the epidemic continues to engulf it. Businesses – and many employees – are eager to return to some kind of normal working life, going back to the office, grabbing lunch at their favorite restaurant, or stopping for drinks after work. But the world has changed, and many managers and workers alike have acknowledged that remote working has advantages.

While coronavirus cases are decreasing and vaccination is on the rise, many companies have not committed to a time and strategy to bring back employees. The most important variable, many officials said, is how long it will take for most employees to get vaccinated. President Biden on Tuesday Said that the United States was “on track” to have enough vaccines for every adult by the end of May.

Another major idea revolves around the children of workers. Companies say they cannot take concrete decisions until they know that local schools will reopen for in-person learning.

Then there is a big question: does it make sense to go back to the way people got into the rhythm of far-flung work before the way the epidemic was given?

“There are different comfort levels with everyone coming back,” said Chuck McAssen, a senior vice president of the Charlett Regional Business Alliance, an organization that has helped woo businesses in the region. “For some companies, it depends on the type of work you are doing and whether you can stay at home or not. But one concern about continued remote work is how to socialize entry-level workers into office culture?

According to Kastle Systems, an office security firm that receives data from 3,600 buildings in the United States, about a quarter of employees nationwide are visiting offices these days.

Many companies, eager to rent vacant office space, are eager to increase that number. Their executives believe that side-by-side employees improve collaboration, support the growth of younger employees and nurture the heart and soul of any company – its culture.

That’s why some managers, such as Mark Rose, the chief executive of Mark Rose, a Chicago-based commercial property consulting and asset management firm with offices around the world, are asking employees to return to office in April.

“If you do not return, you will not be fired or written off, but it is expected, subject to local laws, and your personal issues, that you begin to make your way,” Mr. . Rose said of his 5,000 employees. “It’s going to be absolutely an expectation.”

A massive return to office would certainly be a boon for commercial real estate companies such as Avison Young. Landlords, whose revenues are in danger as corporations move out or reduce the amount of space they rent, will breathe a sigh of relief. Many tenants have excess space. In Manhattan, the amount available to rent sublet office space has increased nearly 50 percent in the past year and it currently accounts for 27 percent of all available space, the highest since the post-2008 financial crisis period, Saville. According to.

In addition, a return to office will help revitalize the city centers that have been ghost cities for months. Restaurants and bars can start hiring again and return travelers can generate much-needed revenue for struggling transit systems.

The course of the epidemic has largely determined office presence. The number crashed in March and April last year, as the epidemic began to pick up slowly towards the end of spring, according to Kastal. After Thanksgiving another boom in transition caused occupancy to drop down but it appears on a fluctuation.

There are large regional differences. In the larger cities of Texas, more than a third of workers have returned, while the New York, San Francisco, and Chicago regions remain below 20 percent.

Some of these regional differences can be explained by how people are supposed to work.

“In places where people are moving through public transport, we know that people are more vulnerable to Kovid because of the sheer presence of others,” said Tedle Neely of Harvard Business School. Prof. studying distance work.

Some companies that have started trying to get workers back into office – such as Vivint, a home security business based in Provint, Utah, which has more than 10,000 employees nationwide – say they are doing so on a voluntary basis .

Vivint is allowing 40 percent of its 4,000 employees in Utah to return, although only 20 percent have chosen to do so regularly. The company needs some call center workers who are “struggling to deliver on their call” and need additional coaching to get into it.

To accommodate social distinctions, Vivint has restricted access to each building with an entrance where employees have taken their temperature. The signs remind employees to wear masks at all times, and the company has limited capacity in conference rooms.

Vivint also has an on-site clinic offering 15-minute rapid virus testing to employees and their families. “This is super important for our ability to provide mental peace to our employees,” said Star Fowler, Senior Vice President of Human Resources.

The company hopes that the clinic will use the clinic to distribute the vaccine to its personnel, when Utah allows it to do so.

Some businesses, such as Seattle-based law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, have said that employees who want to return to office should be vaccinated. But others, such as Duke Energy, have said that they are trying to get vaccinated, not to be encouraged.

Duke spokesman Neil Nissan said that as an incentive for employees to receive the vaccine, Duke Energy is providing “health reward points” for vaccinated employees, similarly to employees not using annual physical or tobacco Get. He said those points could reduce employees’ monthly health insurance costs.

The company said the epidemic would most likely have a lasting impact on how it works.

“We’re going to have a hybrid working model,” Mr. Nissan said. “Some days, an employee will be in the office and other days, they will work remotely. This gives employees flexibility and prevents everyone from happening at the same time. “

More than 55 percent People surveyed Consulting firm PwC said late last year that they would prefer to work for at least three days a week after the epidemic. But their bosses see somewhat different priorities – 68 percent of employers said they believe employees need to be in the office at least three days a week to maintain the corporate culture.

Salesforce, a software company based in San Francisco, recently earned acclaim from some said Most of its employees can come to the office one to three days a week – a company described as “flex” – once an epidemic is no longer a public health threat. The company would not say whether it needed less office space now.

But other companies eventually want all or almost all employees back for most of the week – and are telling workers that their careers could be damaged if they don’t return.

Rapid 7, a cybersecurity company based in Boston, will expect workers to return to the office at least three days a week when it determines it is safe to do so.

“We truly believe that our in-person workplace promotes our culture and our core values,” said Christina Luconi, the company’s other police officer.

He said that employees who do not return to office may face professional consequences.

“We are not saying that we are intentionally going to stabilize your career,” Ms. Luconi said. “But if you are an odd person when everyone is back together, it can be challenging for you.”

Nevertheless, this discussion is somewhat theoretical. Rapid 7 has not yet set a return-to-office date and Ms. Luconi said it will wait until vaccines become widely available. The company is leaning towards allowing only vaccinated employees to return to the office.

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