A survey of corporate real estate professionals at large corporations globally finds that a growing number say that remote work will continue for those employees uncomfortable coming into the office. That represents an increase from 49 percent in a similar survey conducted one month ago.

From 13-18 May, CoreNet Global conducted an updated survey of its 11,000 members to gain insight on a key question confronting corporate real estate (CRE) professionals: how, when and under what circumstances will employees begin to return to their typical workplace – the office – when the health and safety concerns posed by COVID-19 have diminished. One hundred seventy-five members responded to the survey. The survey was an update to a previous survey sent to the worldwide membership from 8-13 April.

When employees do return, they will do so in waves, say a majority of the respondents. One survey respondent said, “our approach will be conservative and slow, starting with less than 25 percent of our staff, and each succeeding step will be taken only if the level of risk continues to be stable or declines.”

Another said, “We are marking up our floor plans to show 50 percent or less occupancy, but groups may come back only at 20 percent of their capacity.”

 13-18 May8-13 April
Will bring employees back in waves as opposed to all at once94 percent84 percent
Option to continue remote work extended to those uncomfortable returning to the office60 percent49 percent
More positive view of remote working than prior to the pandemic65 percent66 percent
Will consider return to work safe when government stay at home orders expire41 percent65 percent

Among other key findings:

  • Thirty percent stated that it is still too early to say when employees will begin returning to the office. Fifty-three percent of survey respondents report that employees will not begin returning to the office until some time in June 2020 or later.
  • Ninety-four percent of survey respondents indicated that they plan to bring employees back in waves (up from 84 percent in the previous survey).
  • Seventy percent of respondents stated that their companies are making accommodations for employees who have day-care challenges as a result of school being cancelled, virtually unchanged from the previous survey (71 percent).
  • For employees who must report to an office now for a necessary business need, the most cited strategy to ensure employee safety is continuing social distancing in the office, cited by 94 percent of respondents. Following were expanded cleaning protocols (88 percent), expanded hand-washing requirements and limiting in-person group meetings (each 76 percent), keeping associates separated by having only a portion in the office at a time (68 percent) and temperature checks (36 percent).
  • Sixty-five percent of survey respondents report having a more positive view of remote working than previously (virtually unchanged from the 66 percent reported in the previous survey). Only two percent of respondents say they have a more negative view of remote working than previously (virtually unchanged from 1 percent in the previous survey).
  • Some 87 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 (83 percent), limits on in-person group meetings (69 percent), continuing social distancing rules with six feet of separation (66 percent) and expanded work hours and other strategies to limit the number of people in the office at one time (51 percent).
  • HR is the corporate function most often represented in companies’ COVID-19 task forces, cited by 85 percent of respondents. Following were CRE and Operations (each 76 percent), IT (64 percent), Communications (63 percent), Health and Safety (56 percent) and Security (51 percent).