After multiple return-to-office dates, COVID-19 surges and delayed expectations, one thing is clear: Companies have no idea when they’ll return.
From the moment companies sent employees home to work remotely in the early phases of the pandemic, those same companies have been looking to return to the office, to a sense of “normal.” At every step, however, new COVID variants, spikes in cases and fresh government restrictions have pushed back return-to-office dates around the world.
According to The New York Times, many companies are giving up altogether on trying to predict when their employees will be coming back. Apple, CNN, Ford and Google are just a few of the companies adopting a wait-and-see approach, and giving up on specific predictions.
“The only companies being dishonest are the ones giving employees certainty,” Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford professor and advisor to dozens of CEOs told The Times. “As a parent you can hide stuff from your kids, but as a C.E.O. you can’t do that to adult employees who read the news.”
“Folks have hedged appropriately this time around and they understand that it’s a dialogue with their employees, not a mandate,” Zach Dunn, co-founder of the office space management platform Robin, told The Times. “If that sounds a little kumbaya, maybe. But the reality is, folks are learning that sharing the intention of their return plan is more important than sharing the plan itself.”
With the omicron variant now sweeping the globe, it’s a safe bet leaving the return-to-office open-ended — or just going all-in on remote work — is likely to be the “new normal” moving forward.