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60% of firms change return to office dates owing to Delta

NAREIM Member Survey

Return to Office_August update

August 24, 2021

Almost two-thirds of real estate investment managers have changed their return to office dates owing to the Delta variant – although few have changed how many employees they expect to return.

Just under 60% of NAREIM members said they had changed the date when they planned to return a majority of their employees to the corporate office, compared to 15% who hadn’t changed their timelines. A quarter of members have already returned.

As the Delta variant spreads across the U.S., members were asked about their return strategies, if they are mandating vaccines and what their travel policies are for the long-term.

Download your copy of the Return to Office – August update – member survey here.


  • 44% of members are already back in the office, but for a further 30% return has been earmarked for September or October.

  • Three-quarters are not changing occupancy ratios in the office owing to the Delta variant

One big question on everyone’s mind is vaccinations and whether firms are beginning to mandate them for return to the office, or for continued employment.

Vaccine mandates - the stats:

  • Two-thirds of NAREIM members are not requiring or mandating Covid-19 vaccines for either return to the office or employment

  • Almost one in five managers is requiring a vaccine for return to office

  • One quarter are still determining whether to require a vaccine for continued employment

  • Where vaccines are required, two-thirds of firms are asking for proof of vaccination, such as CDC cards, rather than an attestation or the honor system.


Travel is expected to be significantly down in the calendar year 2021 vs 2019, with almost 60% of firms expecting to do less than half of their annual travel in 2021. One quarter though expect to do up to 75% of their annual travel while 16% expect to do similar amounts as 2019.

Few firms have introduced travel restrictions but members are largely asking employees to judge if the travel is essential for their job, or could be conducted virtually instead. As one member said: “We have no formal restrictions on travel post-Covid but are asking employees to be thoughtful and prudent in determining the benefit of travel (e.g. in-person meetings, tours, etc vs video meetings, virtual tours, etc).”

Members also outlined their business class travel policies with almost half of managers only allowing business class travel for international flights – with a third not allowing business class on domestic flights at all. When allowed, firms require a flight to be five hours or longer for business class tickets to be purchased.

WFH/Flex schedules:

What will be market in terms of work from the office and work from home in the long-term? As firms adopt policies to retain and attract talent, members revealed their short-term and long-term thinking.

  • One third of managers have still to determine their permanent flex or work from home strategy – with just one quarter of managers saying they were opening up flex schedules to all employees. Only 9% said WFH wouldn’t be provided.

  • Short-term/through the end of 2021: More than half of managers are offering a 3-2 ratio of three days in the office and two days at home through the end of the year, but firms are split on the best ratio thereafter.

  • Long-term/from 2022 onwards: When it came to what flex strategy to offer employees in the long-term, there was more consensus around a 3-2 strategy (more than half of members) and a full-time in office role.

  • Home office expenses were also raised as part of the survey, with most members paying for equipment and technology but less so internet.

The results:

More than 32 organizations participated in the NAREIM member survey focused on return to office strategies between August 12 and 24, covering return to office strategies, vaccine requirements and travel strategies.

Download your copy of the Return to Office – August update – member survey here.

Download your copy of the submitted results here.

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