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July, August are target return to office dates; 1 in 5 firms reveal up to 20% of employees want to stay home

Member Survey. May 18, 2021

A quarter of real estate investment managers are earmarking July or August as the date for most employees to return to the office, with another third looking to September for a return to the workplace, according to a NAREIM member survey.

While 13% of NAREIM members said they were already back partially or on a volunteer basis, 21% said they were looking to return at scale in June – and 26% said they were looking to return either July or August. A further 32% said they were looking to September.

As vaccine rollout has expanded across the U.S., and Covid-safety and business travel restrictions ease, members said the biggest drive for a return was the desire to collaborate and interact with co-workers. The biggest concern was personal health and the risk of infection, although it was closely followed by childcare and commuting/transportation.

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


One big question on everyone’s mind is work-from-home, and whether it will stay for the long-term.

The stats:

  • NAREIM members revealed that for one in five firms, up to 20% of their employees would like to work from home permanently. Another 11% of firms said between 20% and 30% of their employees wanted to work from home full-time.

  • Almost all NAREIM members said flexible schedules would be offered, with 51% of firms expected to provide one to two days per week flexibility.

  • One of the biggest concerns looking ahead is the development of two classes of employees and how to engage with team members working remotely, in the office or hybrid.

  • Other members also highlighted challenges relating to the use of office space in the future, how vaccinated and non-vaccinated employees could co-exist and childcare. “With a lack of vaccinations for children and differing childcare options, working parents are at a disadvantage. This will negatively impact female employees' ability to fully participate and advance,” they said.

The results: 

More than 38 organizations participated in the NAREIM member survey focused on return to office strategies between May 14 and 17, covering return to office strategies, vaccine requirements, WFH, annual investor meetings and culture.

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

Key highlights from the survey also included:

  • Personal health and higher risk of infection remain the leading concern among employees in considering when to return, followed by childcare, use of public transportation and the preference to work from home.

  • Vaccines: Seven out of 10 firms are not requiring vaccines to return to the office

  • Safety in the office: Many Covid-related measures implemented in the office prior to work-from-home will continue, especially given vaccinations are not required to return to the workplace. But safety measures are subject to local regulations, CDC rules and employee vaccination rates, with many anticipating the ability to relax mask wearing restrictions in the near future. Deep and extra cleaning will continue to be adopted widely, with many firms also saying social distancing and mask wearing in common areas and desk capacity restrictions and attestations will still be maintained.

  • Annual meetings: 14% of firms are planning to hold their annual investor meeting in-person in 2021 – up from just 3.6% in March. A total of 43% of firms said in the survey they were planning to be virtual in 2021 – with a third still to determine whether to be online, in-person or hybrid. Another 11% said they would be hybrid.

Download your copy of the Return to Office Survey, here.

To see the submitted answers, please click here. Note, all responses are anonymized to both NAREIM and NAREIM members.

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