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Welcome Back-to-the-Office

What will it be like to head back to the office after more than a year of upheaval? For many of us, returning to work means being in the office or being out in the market, conducting in-person meetings and attending events. We wanted to take the pulse of our members to gauge reactions to resuming pre-pandemic business activities including returning to the office, work travel, and childcare concerns as we ease back into an on-site work environment.

On-site Workplace —
“99% of people have not returned to the office – we do not have to return until Jan. 2022.”
“We will remain hybrid indefinitely! I’m excited about this!”
“This week, we returned to work. The night before, it truly felt like the first day of school, a mix of excitement and nervousness. But it has been so great to feel the energy back at the office, reconnect with colleagues, and meet others face-to-face for the very first time.”
“I am excited to be visiting with clients and seeing people again. Not so much about being back in the office daily.”

Travel for Work
“I have gone to a few clients who insisted on it, but maybe 10%-15% of the normal travel volume. Most clients have been happy with Zoom, I expect the volume to pick up a little this fall but never return to the level it was.”
“I am not traveling at the same pace as before. I am still about 70% virtual and 30% in-person.”

“I’m planning on resuming travel later this year, going to my first conference in September.”
“I’m vaccinated so I’m comfortable going to large group events. I’m anxious about shaking hands though… Do we still do that?”

Childcare Concerns —
“My children’s daycare had shortened hours at the beginning of COVID and has not returned to pre-pandemic hours, so the commute to work would be a burden or I would have to be late to work AND leave early on days my spouse cannot get the kids.”
“My only concern is if they all of a sudden require us to come back full time, I’ve modified my childcare schedule to suit my hybrid schedule right now.”
“Our 3-year-old starts preschool in September so until then we continue to juggle the responsibilities but the grandparents have been such a great help. We had decided to keep him home due to COVID but very happy and ready to have him start school.” 

According to HBRs, 5 Models for the Post-Pandemic Workplace (6/3/21), if there is one lesson learned about the workplace during the pandemic — perhaps it is not that working from home was better or worse than working from an office, but that each had its merits and that firms won’t converge on a single workplace model.  And finally, employers must recognize the importance of supporting women in their search for work-life balance, both for the employees themselves and as it accrues value back to the organization through more productive and loyal workers. (WIPN Work-Life Balance Whitepaper).

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