Delta Variant Has Disrupted Office Reopening Plans

The rapid rise of the highly transmissible Delta variant has left many companies grappling with the decision to delay reopening offices by as long as six months. A report by Envoy, a workplace platform that helps teams manage hybrid work, notes that most office workers prefer to work from home in some capacity. The report titled Return to the Workplace gauged sentiments among 1,000 office workers who have returned to the workplace within the past year.

The Delta variant is scaring employees.

According to the survey findings, roughly 45% of workers said they didn’t have a choice in their return to offices. Around 37% of workers said they are more stressed since returning to the workplace. More than a third (35%) of workers say they are more likely to hand in their notice compared to 18% of those who had a choice. Moreover, 51% of women compared to 40% of men feel they were given no choice but to return.

Hybrid Workplace Reopening Offices

However, if given the option, most office workers prefer to work from the office in some capacity. The findings note that 70% of workers would choose a hybrid work model, while only 12% would prefer to work remotely on a daily basis.

At this point, every organization is – and should be –asking: When should we return workers to offices? Should we mandate vaccines in order to keep offices open?

“One major takeaway from these data points is that companies that demand a return to pre-pandemic ‘business as usual’ will fail. We need to earn our employees back,” said Larry Gadea, CEO and founder of Envoy. “COVID isn’t going anywhere — people need to know that their health is the top priority. And leaders need to ask the hard questions about what’s working and what’s not, and then begin experimenting with technology solutions that make the work experience better.”

For now, employers must focus on the health, welfare and safety of their workers. This calls for a greater amount of flexibility and empathy, and a willingness to retrace back-to-work decisions as circumstances surrounding the Delta variant change. A good decision would be to take a pulse on employee sentiment.

Jane Harper
Writer. Human resources expert and consultant. Follow @thehrdigest on Twitter

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