Business Unusual: Back to the Office? - She Runs It
Thought Leadership

Business Unusual: Back to the Office?

By Lynn Branigan

As CDC restrictions are softened and Covid cases continue to decline, businesses are making decisions about bringing people back to the office. The She Runs It staff is also pondering our next move because we gave up our We Work space at the beginning of the pandemic, and the past 15 months have taught us how much we can accomplish from our various remote locations.

Going back to the office isn’t just a safety decision, it’s also a cultural one. The office is a place to convene with colleagues who often become friends. Water cooler conversations, team meetings, and brainstorming sessions often extend beyond the workday to local bars and restaurants, many of which are also grappling with decisions about opening up and occupancy.

One thing is clear: we are at a turning point that no one has ever faced before. It’s impossible to find precedent on which to base these important decisions.

On May 26, the She Runs It community met virtually for our Annual Spring Meeting. This was an important session during which we approved by-laws, confirmed our Operating Board, and gave a thumbs up to the merger of mBolden into She Runs It. We also took the opportunity to poll our membership about their plans and preferences for returning to the office. 

We asked our members to tell us when their companies are planning to open their offices to employees again, and we learned that most (53%), are leaning toward Fall of this year. We asked them what they preferred in terms of remote or virtual, and the overwhelming majority (81%), wanted a hybrid schedule with sometime in the office, but not full time. Finally, we asked how people are feeling about masks these days, and again the majority (60%), said they were going to continue to wear them because they wanted to keep others safe.

We’re going to continue to monitor the decisions of our corporate alliance partners and member companies via our social channels as people venture back to the office …. Or not.

Here are the full results of our member poll on May 26:

When is your company going back to work?

  • 10% Summer 2021 (June – August)
  • 53% Fall 2021 (September – December)
  • 6% Winter (January – March 2022)
  • 1% Spring 2022 (April – June)
  • 29% We have not been told yet

If the choice were up to you, would you ever return to the office?

  • 81% A hybrid schedule is preferred (some days home, some days in the office)
  • 13% I intend to work from home indefinitely
  • 4% I can’t wait to see everyone; I do my best work in the office
  • 1% I am not sure yet
  • 1% Yes, but only when vaccinated

Mask on/Mask off?

  • 35% I’m vaccinated so mask off for me
  • 60% Mask on because I’m still being careful about those around me
  • 5% Mask off because I’m tired of this