What Is the Perfect Date to Bring Workers Back to the Office?

“We decided as a leadership team,” Ms. Anas said, “What was so magical about these dates?” “It was a very liberating saying, ‘We’ll see how this turns out and we won’t set a date.'”

She is concerned that they may continue to work from home in March, two years after they first filled their offices. But with coronavirus infection rates soaring, Ms. Anas is relieved that the company does not have to weigh the benefits of returning early for 2022, leaving workers waiting anxiously for updates.

“If we had kicked the can through January, they would have been focused on that,” she said. “We keep focusing on work. This is just a distraction.”

For many organizational leaders, addressing their workforce concerns has been the only constant in the RTO process.

As Delta spreads, Jessica Saranish, who runs US operations at productivity software company Monday.com, got a series of notes from colleagues: Are we really going back to the office in August? Last month brought news of Omicron, with a new set of questions: What does this mean for the off-site gathering in January, with its promise of free food, parties, and Miami DJs? Ms. Saranish’s team has delayed his return to the office three times, leaving some employees to demand more continuity in the company’s policies.

“Sometimes our team will say please just make the decision, pick something up and make us go back to the office or have us walk away,” said Ms. Saranic. “But it’s not something we want to rush into. Being able to lean on our antics and say we don’t know is a great gift we can give our team.”

However, a lot of organizations aiming for an early return for 2022 have not budged.

Express Employment Professionals, an Oklahoma City-based recruitment firm, aims to return half of its 300 workers to its newly remodeled headquarters January 15. The company originally reopened its office in July in a phased re-entry plan, which was temporary. Downsizing in September. Keith McFall, chief operating officer, feels that clear RTO dates serve as a stabilizing force for workers going through months of turmoil.

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