Death of The Open-Office: A Boon to Real Estate?

San Francisco Chronicle details the future of the workplace “other than essential measures like reconfiguring office layouts and using personal protective equipment, planning for future spikes in the virus will also require a range of technology to trace and screen employees.”

A majority are hesitant to return to the office and a quarter will wait to return until they feel safe, signaling the future office will require more space to ensure safety and open floor plans will become a thing of the past. 

A gradual and staggered return: While majority are hesitant to return to the office, a third (32%) of Gen Z/Millennials will return at least a few days per week when allowed to reduce interaction with others.

  • Of the three-quarters (74%) of Americans who work from an office at least some of the time, (48%) half are still hesitant to return full-time.
    • One-quarter (24%) will work as soon as allowed for a few days a week, while the same number (24%) will wait until they feel more safe.
    • (37%) will return full-time as soon as they are allowed.
    • (44%) Gen X are more willing than (27%) Boomers to return immediately full-time, while (32%) Gen Z/Millennial will return at least a few days per week (vs 23% Gen X, 17% Boomers). 3 in 10 (30%) Boomers have been working full-time from the office the entire time vs (9%) of Gen Z/Millennials and (10%) of Gen X.

Why rush back? American workers say we should take advantage of the ability to work from home until COVID-19 is no longer a threat.

  • (84%) say if the work is able to be done remotely, employers should not require their employees to return to the office until COVID-19 is no longer a threat.
  • (83%) say employees should be allowed to work-from-home during the pandemic until they feel comfortable to return.
    • (86%) of Boomers, (85%) Gen X vs (72%) Gen Z/Millennials

The first step for employers to make employees comfortable is having clear guidelines outlining safety precautions – until then, American workers feel entitled to protect their safety, especially if they can work remotely:

  • (82%) say if employers want their employees to return to work from the office, they must provide personal protective equipment (PPE).
    • (82%) Boomers, (74%) Gen Z/Millennials

Wave 10 of The Harris Poll COVID-19 Tracker was fielded online among a nationally representative sample of 2,039 U.S adults from May 1 – May 3, 2020.