Return to the Physical Office

As the percentage of individuals vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus rises and stay-at-home orders are lifted, organizations in many geographies are planning when, or even if, employees will be able or willing to return to the physical workplace. How are tech company decision-makers approaching the situation, and what do they think is the best way to proceed with a safe return to headquarters?

In this One-Minute White Paper, Pulse surveyed over 200 tech decision-makers about:

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Return to the Physical Office

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Data collected from May 10 - May 24, 2021

Total respondents: 210 tech leaders

Most organizations are asking employees about the return—while decision-makers themselves want to be back within 1 - 6 months time

Over two-thirds (67%) of decision-makers report that they or their organization have surveyed employees to discover how staff feel about returning to the physical office.

Some staff are eager to return, while others may quit if they are required to return full time.”

- Manager, large enterprise

47% of tech leaders report their organization has set a return date within the next 1-6 months, while 20% have already returned to the physical office.

Breaking down the data, only 16% of those whose organizations have conducted an employee sentiment survey (n = 140) have already returned to the office, and 18% have no plans in place. That contrasts with those whose organization hasn’t surveyed employees (n = 67): 30% have already returned to the physical office, and 30% report that there are no plans in place.

From a personal point of view, decision-makers mostly want to see a return in the next 1-6 months (40% overall), though 19% remain uncomfortable regarding a return to the physical office for now.

“We have had several [cases of] infected employees and I feel insecure working every day at the office.”

- Manager, large enterprise

“It was necessary [to go back]. Up to today it has been safe.”

- C-suite, large enterprise

Tracking office density top-of-mind for safety protocols—and most orgs won’t require employees to be vaccinated

When it comes to software-based safety solutions, most want the ability to book meeting rooms on-demand (52%), followed by the ability to see real-time office density maps (43%).

Keeping with the idea of creating office density awareness, reduced office capacity (65%) is the most desired non-software safety solution, followed by touchless entries (60%).

“We already returned: Half [the] team works in the office, half [the] team work from home, they [alternate] every week.”

- Director, small to medium-sized business

When it comes to vaccinations, over half (53%) say this isn’t a requirement for returning to the physical office, though over a quarter (26%) are unsure, perhaps indicating that a decision is yet to be made.

“I am concerned that not enough people are vaccinated and a mutation may occur that could spread widely. It needs another 9 months, maybe more, before I would go back to the office.”

- Director, large enterprise

Going forwards, tech leaders say: Let employees decide their work from home ratio for themselves

Following a year of remote work, decision-makers favour maintaining some flexibility: Over a third (35%) want to let individual employees decide for themselves, while many prefer to keep working 2-3 days remote (41% overall).

Respondent Breakdown


Return to the Physical Office

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About Pulse

Pulse is a social research platform trusted by technology leaders around the world. These leaders rely on the community to make connections, share knowledge, get advice, and stay on top of current trends in the technology space. The questions, polls, and surveys posted in the platform are curated in Pulse's One-Minute White Paper reports, which reflect what technology leaders care about right now—and in the rapidly evolving world of software, real-time data and insights in what matters most.