Entering year three of the pandemic, 87% of workers are ready to work from the office in 2022 according to a survey from OnePoll, with 60% saying they miss the human interaction and nearly half saying they look forward to in-person meetings.

But employees don’t want to return if there are safety concerns.  Another survey from Morning Consult found that 55% of remote workers would consider quitting if they were asked to return to the office before they felt it was safe.  Rather than waiting for things to “get back to normal,” employers need to create an office environment that employees want to return to. The focus on productivity and collaboration remain, but cleanliness, safety, health and flexibility must also be thrown into the equation.

“Employees returning to the office want assurances that their safety concerns have been addressed,” said Sheldon Oppermann, Compass Properties Executive Vice President. “We have really stepped up measures to  keep our tenants and guests safe and healthy. It includes everything from reconfiguring space to encourage social distancing, to destination elevators, indoor air quality upgrades, touchless technology, and new procedures to increase frequency of cleaning in high-density and high touch areas.”

Opperman said tenants are paying attention to air quality more now than ever. “At CityCenter735, we’ve calibrated the ventilation systems to maximize outside air exchanges, we’ve retrofitted our HVAC systems with high efficiency MERV13 filters and we are using NPBI technology throughout the building. The result is a high level of indoor air quality that is second to none in the Milwaukee office space market.”   (Click here for more info on CityCenter’s indoor air quality initiatives.)

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services says every business should have a plan to prevent COVID-19 by protecting employees, educating customers, and keeping their building or environment safe and sanitary.  That includes modifying sick leave policies to make sure ill works are not in the workplace, taking steps to improve ventilation systems to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading throughout the building, and a stepped-up focus on cleaning and disinfecting.

COVID-19’s highly contagious Omicron variant has again caused a change in return to the office plans for many employers across the country.  While no one knows for sure, many business leaders share a view that the spread of the Omicron variant — which is more infectious, but also milder — could usher in the endemic phase of the pandemic, followed by a wave of offices reopening.

Chief Medical Advisor to POTUS Dr. Anthony Fauci recently said it’s still too early to predict when or if Omicron’s rapid spread will push coronavirus from the pandemic phase to a more manageable endemic phase — but “I would hope that that’s the case.”  Well Dr. Fauci, we’re with you on that!