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Back to the Office? How Things Are Unfolding

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Just when you got settled into an at-home work routine, the office is calling you back.

And maybe after months of video calls and working from various makeshift work spaces (hello kitchen counter), you’re ready to, well, leave your house. And create some more separation between work and life.

But even with additional guidelines in place for reopening – from increased ventilation to regular temperature checks and mask requirements – some people still feel like the perks of working from home may outweigh coming back to the office.

Polls show many Americans are anxious about returning to the workplace. Half of 1,000 professionals surveyed by global consulting firm Korn Ferry said they’re hesitant to go back to the office because of health concerns. And, a majority of workers Gallup polled said they would prefer to continue working remotely as much as possible, even after the health crisis subsides.

Employers are taking office re-openings slowly. To help workers feel more comfortable returning, most offices are limiting who can come in, at least initially. Some companies are asking senior management to head back first, while others decide based on who might benefit the most from being in-person, according to the Wall Street Journal. And many employers are making changes that could help curb the spread of germs. 

This New York Times piece detailed a few of these measures which included installing sneeze guards, setting up stations with disinfectant and banning shared food. 

Other offices are really taking their time. For example, several major tech companies have told employees they probably won’t need to go back until next summer. And based on survey data, Goldman Sachs Research expects a significant amount of remote working to persist. In their view, being forced to telecommute likely helped break down some of the reservations companies may have had before the pandemic, such as “reluctance from employees due to stigma, reluctance from managers due to uncertainty over its effectiveness, and up-front costs such as setup costs and productivity losses during the initial stages of adjustment.”

Returning to the office could be a win for some workers. As great as working from home might be, in-person office life could also turn up a few benefits. As this New York Times article points out, remote workers tend to take fewer breaks and fewer sick days, but in-office work could be less isolating and foster creativity and innovation. 

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.

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