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Survey: Large Corporations Could Bring Office Employees Back In Waves

Real estate professionals tied to major corporations around the world anticipate employees will return to work at different times, with some organizations alternating employee schedules so staffers don't occupy workspaces at the same time. 

Whether those shifts come in the form of different schedules in the same workday, or alternating workweeks among staff members is still unknown.

But what's clear is CRE professionals at big companies are imagining a return that is less celebratory and more strategic in terms of how employee health is protected. 

CoreNet Global captured this strategy in its survey of corporate real estate professionals.

Of the 163 professionals who responded to the survey, 84% said employees will come back to the office in waves, while the remainder said their firms will most likely bring everyone back at once.  

For those firms anticipating staggered return dates, many said they intend to bring back the most needed staff members first. 

About 25% of respondents are considering expanded work hours and alternating shifts for staff members, along with other strategies, to ensure employees are not too close together during the workday. 

When it comes to the most at-risk groups, many of the CRE executives interviewed said those individuals classified as at-risk will continue to work from home.

As for when employees return, 35% of respondents expect offices to open sometime in May, while another 30% think it will take until June or later. The remaining 33% said it's too soon to tell. 

A majority of respondents, 65%, said they will consider it safe to return to the office when government stay-at-home orders lift. 

About one in four said they don't want to return until they see local and state statistics that show their communities have gone at least 14 days without new coronavirus cases.

Keeping The Workplace Sanitary

When everyone returns, corporate offices will be working overtime on health and safety concerns.  

Seventy-three percent of CoreNet Global respondents believe enhanced cleaning protocols will remain in effect for at least six months after their offices reopen. 

About 68% said their firms will continue to promote hand-washing, while 36% said they'll limit in-person meetings for a significant period of time. 

Roughly 49% of executives surveyed said their firms are likely to offer remote working as an option for associates who are still too afraid to return.

Social distancing at work, including the recommended 6-foot guideline, also will be enforced, according to the survey. 

Companies in CRE learned during the pandemic that working from home is a better option than they imagined.

About 66% of those who answered the survey had a more positive view of remote working after the coronavirus shutdown, while only 1% adopted a more negative view, CoreNet Global reported.