New Delays Complicate Return to Office

New York, NY, August 23, 2021-With the latest wave of return-to-office delays from Covid-19, it is now possible that some offices may be closed for nearly two years, reports the Wall Street Journal, and a rising concern among executives is that the longer people stay at home, the harder or more disruptive it could be to eventually bring them back.

“Many employees developed new routines during the pandemic, swapping commuting for exercise or blocking hours for uninterrupted work. Even staffers who once bristled at doing their jobs outside of an office have come to embrace the flexibility and productivity of at-home life over the past 18 months, many say. Surveys have shown that enthusiasm for remote work has only increased as the pandemic has stretched on.

“Return dates have been postponed repeatedly. On Thursday, Apple Inc. told corporate employees that its planned return to U.S. offices would be delayed until at least January. “Companies such as Chevron Corp. and Wells Fargo & Co. have postponed September returns, while tech companies such as Inc. and Facebook Inc. have pushed them to early next year. Lyft Inc. said it would call employees back to its San Francisco headquarters in February, about 23 months after the ride-sharing company first closed its offices.

“Prudential Financial Inc. delayed its office reopening from September to October at the earliest, though Rob Falzon, vice chair of the company, said that date could change, too, depending on health conditions. 

“Prudential plans to allow for a mix of in-person and remote work once U.S. offices reopen. But the longer people stay at home, the more Mr. Falzon worries about employees feeling disconnected. ‘My single greatest concern is around talent,’ he said. ‘As individuals disassociate themselves with their organizations from a cultural standpoint, it becomes increasingly easy for them to make decisions to leave and go elsewhere.’

“Already, many employees are ‘bombarded’ with messages from recruiters and friends, attempting to lure them elsewhere, he said. ‘When they’re in the workplace, I think they have a broader sense of connection to the platform, to the culture of the organization-their fellow employees, their teams-that makes them less inclined to want to leave,’ Mr. Falzon said.”