SURVEY SAYS: Have You Returned to the Office?

PLANSPONSOR NewsDash readers report whether their offices have opened back up and whether they are working in the office full-time, part-time or not at all.

Last week, I asked NewsDash readers, “Have you returned to the office, and do you still have safety concerns?”

Nearly two-thirds (63.6%) of responding readers work in a plan sponsor role, 18.2% are recordkeepers/TPAs/investment consultants, 11.4% are advisers/consultants, 4.5% are attorneys and 2.3% are CPAs.

Only 18.2% of responding readers reported they have returned to working in the office full-time, while 13.6% said they have returned to working in the office some days, and the same percentage indicated they have not returned to working in the office but their office is open if they want to work there.

More than one-quarter (27.3%) of respondents reported they have not returned to working in the office because their offices are still closed, while 11.4% said they never stopped working in the office/never worked remotely, and 4.5% indicated they worked remotely even before the pandemic/rarely go into the office.

Those who left “other” responses either said they have not returned to the office, but their office is open for certain staff or that they have always worked a split in-office/remote schedule.

Nearly three-fourths (72.7%) of responding readers said they have no safety concerns about going into the office. However, one-quarter said they do have safety concerns and 2.3% indicated they are unsure.

The sentiment was mixed among respondents who left comments: Some anxious to get back in the office, some thinking people should and some wanting to stay remote. One reader shared steps his/her company took to make the office environment safe. Several made the point that the move to remote work because of COVID has stopped other illnesses from spreading. Editor’s Choice goes to the reader who said: “It was always a problem that people came to work sick, and ‘shared the wealth.’ I have not had common ailments, e.g. flu, cold, etc., since I began working remote. I want to keep it that way!”

Thank you to all who responded to the survey!

Verbatim

With the desks right next to each in my workplace, I would feel better about going back to work if the environment were converted to cubicles with better separation. Sitting within ~16 inches of a person on either side doesn’t give me much comfort.

We knew 13 months ago that over 99.9% of the workforce was at very little risk of harm if they were infected. We knew then that this disease is dangerous for the very old, the obese, and those with other serious health risks. Employees with those 3 traits should remain cautious. The rest should have been back at work long ago.

Not sure I’m comfortable in returning to the office yet; although we do have the ability to schedule time there. I will wait until mid-year to think about returning.

Management carefully worked out a safe way for some of us to return to the office full time. Access to areas outside my department are limited, to limit exposure if someone gets the virus. Employees are spread out to maintain physical distancing. Masks are required. Plexiglass has been installed in some areas. On the weekends, offices are sanitized. Other measures are in place to protect our health. And I get to see people!

We have been working at our office since early summer 2020. None of our employees have been infected with COVID at the office by taking reasonable precautions.

It was always a problem that people came to work sick, and “shared the wealth.” I have not had common ailments, e.g. flu, cold, etc., since I began working remote. I want to keep it that way!

My role is easily transitioned to a permanent work from home environment. My company may be transitioning my role to that status, but if it doesn’t, I may request it.

I have been working from the office 3-4 days a week since last year. As time goes on, I am seeing more people coming in more frequently.

As soon as they said we could start coming back to the office I did – home has too many distractions, dishes, laundry, soap operas, etc.!!

I know there are some people with legitimate concerns about returning to the office, but I also think a certain number are just using it as an excuse because they prefer working remotely.

Although I’ll miss my dog and having my commute be a walk to my home office, it’s time to go back. I can’t wait to see my coworkers!

The office is a formality many of us have proven isn’t necessary anymore.

Our offices never close. We have been wearing masks when you leave your workspace, but that ends next week. On May 3 the mask mandate is over; they become optional. Freedom!

The date is constantly changing: 4/1, then 9/13, now “unsure.” It seems now we are likely to make the decision entirely voluntary…stay tuned!

Our office is not slated to open until September and by then everyone that wants to be vaccinated will have gotten their shots. So not a real concern for me to return to the office

Every flu season the flu virus spreads like wildfire in my office; I see no reason we’d fare better with COVID until everyone is vaccinated.

Just like I became accustomed to my commuter lifestyle, I have become accustomed to my work from home life. I enjoy being able to enjoy the comforts of my home while being a cog in the working wheel. I’ll probably end up going back eventually…very reluctantly…

I have concerns about any public place. I want to trust that everyone is getting vaccinated, but I know that’s not the reality and that’s scary. Why do some feel like they don’t have to be a part of the solution?

I can’t wait to go back to the office!

Our office is a petri dish on the best day. I don’t want to go back in live until this is truly over.

When we all get back in the office, it will be like we are all new hires and will need to get to know what happened in each other lives over the past year.

We were deemed an essential business, so we never shut down. All employees were given the resources to work remotely, and we have settled into a schedule of rotating between office and home, ensuring coverage at work

I will return to the office as needed once I’m fully vaccinated. Our company has taken the necessary measures to ensure we can return safely within CDC and state guidelines.

I won’t go back to the office and have become 100% remote

I never used to like work-at-home but now I’m not sure I’ll ever get used to working in an office again. My commute used to take about 45 minutes each way. Now it’s a walk downstairs, and I’m still late to work every day!

I would prefer working at home. Our company transitioned back in March when those employees who wanted the vaccine had the opportunity to get one. Our office doors are closed to the public and meetings are still held virtually. From a safety perspective, there have been no issues. From my personal perspective, I could do without the commute, the noisy open cubicle environment, and being tied to a desk all day. It’s okay, 17 months until retirement but who’s counting.

Now that I have adjusted to the isolation, I find it hard to imagine ever putting on heels again and wasting hours of my day commuting to an office.

I have been vaccinated, and I feel comfortable being around other people

We had employees with anxiety from working at home. If there is not a business case (improved productivity…) employees should now be in the office. This should have never been the role of the government.

 

NOTE: Responses reflect the opinions of individual readers and not necessarily the stance of Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) or its affiliates.

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