Corporate real estates executives worldwide are reassessing their views of remote work. Fully two-thirds of respondents to a recent CoreNet Global survey confirm that COVID-19 experiences underlie their new, more favourable opinions of working from home or other venues outside corporate office space. However, the majority of surveyed executives are also from firms with essential workers who are still required to be on-site in commercial buildings.
With CoreNet Global’s membership located in 50 different countries, survey findings offer a wide-angled snapshot of corporate pandemic responses and expectations for recovery. Notably, 77 per cent of respondents are part of their company’s COVID-19 response team — a responsibility they typically share with colleagues representing human resources, operations, communications and IT and, to a lesser degree, security and health and safety divisions.
Questioned during the week of April 8 to 13, the majority of surveyed corporate real estate executives are planning for a phased return of their workforces once public officials within their jurisdictions lift COVID-19 related stay-at-home orders. They also expect heightened awareness of cleaning and social distancing protocols to continue well into the future.
Thirty-five per cent of respondents expect staff will begin returning to their offices in May and another 30 per cent project a June return, but just 16 per cent foresee all employees returning to the workplace at the same time. Suggested strategies for incremental re-entry include:
- Expanded work hours and shifts to reduce numbers in the office at any one time
- Staff working alternating weeks in the office or at home
- Empty seats/desks between each occupied one to maintain a six-foot distance
- Allowing or encouraging some staff to continue to work from home
Sixty-five per cent of respondents said it should be safe to begin such procedures once government stay-at-home orders are lifted. However, about one quarter are looking to more stringent thresholds tied to confirmation of no new COVID-19 cases for a stipulated period.
Safeguards currently in place for essential workers and/or those who must occasionally go to the workplace include: social distancing; expanded cleaning regimes; limits on in-person group meetings; and temperature checks. Fifty-eight per cent of respondents work for companies that have at least some staff deemed essential and in the conventional workplace. Of those companies, one third are providing bonus or hazard pay.
To brainstorm for return-to-work and other strategies, CoreNet Global will sponsor a hackathon April 20 to May 3, and invites corporate real estate leaders to register by April 17 to tackle one of the following topics: space utilization and metrics; distributed work; workplace wellbeing; the autonomous workplace; environment and climate change; or manufacturing and industrial.