I’m vaccinated, my partner is vaccinated, my mother is vaccinated, and even half of my kids are vaccinated. My 15-year-old is keeping very close tabs on when the Pfizer vaccine will be available for kids under 16. We went out the other day and ate in a restaurant! After 12 months of strictly following social distancing and working from home to keep everyone safe, leaving the house for something other than groceries felt like a special vacation. I did my makeup, curled my hair, and put on cute shoes to go eat at a Chili’s. It was amazing!
As more and more people are getting vaccinated, more of our country is able to open up. That includes the office. As thrilled as I was to eat at a Chili’s, the idea of going back into the office every day and having to wear real pants is not an exciting idea. It turns out I am not alone in this. According to a recent Gallup Survey, 44% of people surveyed would prefer to continue working remotely once restrictions are lifted. The survey also found that one in four employees would like to continue working remotely long term. That means that 75% of remote workers will be going back to the office.
When bringing workers back, companies have to take into account how their space may need to change.
People are feeling hopeful about the end of this health crisis. In March 2021, 41% of people reported that they are not too worried about the coronavirus pandemic, and 53% report that the situation is a little better than the previous month with 24% reporting it is much better.
While we are hopefully on the last leg of the coronavirus race, it isn’t over yet. Bringing workers back means providing masks, creating space for social distancing, and creative scheduling to ensure that the CDC guidelines for office workers are being met.
Buildings that were completely shuttered for a year might have some additional health concerns that will have to be addressed before bringing employees into the workspace.
A company that will be offering a hybrid approach to in-office working may need to re-evaluate the space they have. Square footage rental costs can be a large part of a budget that for small- and mid-size companies might be better allocated somewhere else if their workforce is primarily to remain at home. Office sharing or ‘hoteling’ a desk might be an option to allow a company to downsize to a smaller space.
The downside of this is that most people like to personalize their workspace, and this sharing-a-space-with-someone means keeping workspaces neutral. This can also create problems with community building office activities like lunches and events. Having to schedule events twice or offer a hybrid option for participation can be a resource consumer.
As for me, I have always had my own space, and while I am perfectly comfortable sharing a space, knowing that I don’t have to worry about disinfecting my desk and stashing my display tiaras, makes the idea of going back into the office more palatable. Our manager has asked team members to come in two days a week to the office. I am not looking forward to sitting in traffic again or even putting on something other than sweatpants for work, but there are benefits to returning to the office. One, I get to see my amazing coworkers whom I have primarily seen only via Teams calls for a year. And two, I need to get out of the house. My partner packed my computer bag for me this morning, made me lunch, and shoved me out the door. I think they would like the house to themselves sometimes. I am pretty sure right now they are reading a book thinking how nice it is to not have to listen to another onboarding meeting or hear me discuss analytics with my teammates.
I am enjoying the office today, but I am still looking forward to not having to wear real pants.
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