Uncharted Territory: How Companies are Going Back to Work

June 11, 2020 3 Minute Read

Uncharted Territory: How Companies are Going Back to Work

Depending on where you work, you’ve likely received an email in the past few weeks detailing your company’s back-to-work plan.

It’s a difficult planning process, and one that will differ depending on region and industry.

But there are some common trends emerging, as companies consider what it means to bring employees back to the office during COVID-19.

CBRE conducted an anonymized survey of account leaders within the Global Workplace Solutions business about their reopening activities.

The results, which were finalized on May 4, provide a snapshot of how these companies are tackling this unprecedented challenge.

What Could Returning to Work During COVID-19 Look Like?

Meeting the Criteria

According to the survey, 61.0% of respondents are going above and beyond government requirements by setting their own corporate criteria that must be met in order to return to work.

The criteria are set by recovery taskforces, most commonly organized at the enterprise or global level.

Only 20.0% of companies surveyed said they plan to reopen as soon as possible once government restrictions are lifted. Most will have a phased re-entry strategy, with around 20.0 to 30.0% of employees returning to work for each phase, with essential employees returning first.

Many companies plan to limit visitors during the first phase, while employees who are able to continue working from home will be asked to do so.

Together, Apart

Even when employees do return to the workplace, physical distancing will remain in effect for most workforces.

Nearly half of the companies surveyed plan to follow government physical distancing guidelines, while 34.0% are implementing global corporate standards.

That means the days of sitting shoulder-to-shoulder with your coworkers or cramming into small meeting rooms are likely gone.

Movement within offices will also be limited, and new rules will determine who can enter communal areas when.

What Could Returning to Work During COVID-19 Look Like?

Determining the Details

Of course, not every approach to reopening the office will be the same.

While 59.0% of respondents say they will provide masks to employees, only 28.0% of companies will require that they be worn constantly.

Over 80.0% of companies will be adding physical-distancing signage, while only 18.0% will be installing touchless technology.

Most companies plan to conduct off-site symptom screening for COVID-19 symptoms, while roughly a third are considering on-site screenings based on a variety of factors.

Most companies are undertaking building infrastructure assessments, reconfiguring space and introducing social distancing zones.

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