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More than half of professionals surveyed this month by the global organizational consulting firm Korn Ferry, said their company has changed its plans to return to the office right after Labor Day because of the recent uptick in COVID-19 cases. 

The survey found that 54% said the reopening of offices had been delayed and 46% said it had not. When asked when they expected to their buildings to reopen, 20% of respondents said they were already back at work, 26% expect to return later in the fall or before the end of the year, 22% said they will be back in 2022, and 32% said they didn’t think they would ever return. 

Nearly one-third (32%) of respondents said vaccines or negative COVID-19 tests will be required before they are allowed to return, and 73% said masks will be required when inside the office. 

“Most organizations have been very successful at maintaining – or even improving – employee productivity during the transition to virtual work environments,” said Elise Freedman, Korn Ferry organization strategy and workforce transformation practice leader. “We’ve proven that being in the office is not mission critical to professionals getting their jobs done.” 

Employers that are moving forward with office reentry plans should prioritize health-safety protocols, Freedman said. 

“If employees feel their employers aren’t taking their well-being seriously enough, they will leave and find an employer who does,” said Freedman.