Is Omicron Forcing Tech Employers to Halt Return-to-Office Plans?

Is the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases due to the ultra-contagious Omicron variant forcing employers to readjust their return-to-office plans? 

According to Blind, which surveys anonymous technologists on a range of issues, the answer is “yes.” Some 71 percent of technologists across the country told Blind their employer had postponed the office reopening due to Omicron. The rest (29 percent) reported no changes in plans. (The total survey size was 3,167 technologists.)

“Survey responses from verified professionals at Apple, Cisco, Credit Karma, Cruise, DocuSign, eBay, Expedia, Google, Intel, Lyft, MathWorks, Microsoft, Oracle, Peloton, Pinterest, Roblox, SAP, Twilio and Uber confirmed the delayed office reopenings,” Blind added in a blog posting. “Some of them indefinitely.” 

Blind also asked technologists who’ve returned to their offices whether their employer required them to get tested for COVID-19 at least once a week. Some 31 percent of respondents said that was the case, while 69 percent reported no such testing rule at their company. The results indicate many employers may be waiting to implement President Biden’s vaccine mandate, which also gives workers the option to be tested for the coronavirus weekly,” Blind’s blog posting added. “The U.S. Supreme Court is currently reviewing the mandate.”

Right before Omicron became a serious issue in the U.S., new survey data from LinkedIn (based on around 5,000 U.S.-based respondents) suggested that some 50 percent of employees had returned to working onsite, a slight but significant rise from 40 percent in September 2020. Meanwhile, the percentage of those working remotely on a full-time basis declined from 44 percent to 34 percent.

“What’s most striking… is how much the pandemic-influenced worksite choices of 2020 have persisted,” read LinkedIn’s blog posting accompanying the data. “That’s happened even as mass vaccinations and significantly relaxed safety protocols allow nearly all employers to imagine a full return to the worksite.”

Although Omicron may delay office re-openings for a few more weeks or months, it’s clear that a majority of technologists want to head back to their office desks for at least part of the workweek: In Dice’s 2021 Technologist Sentiment Report, for example, 85 percent of technologists said they found the prospect of hybrid work anywhere from somewhat to extremely desirable. How long until many companies open up offices again?

2 Responses to “Is Omicron Forcing Tech Employers to Halt Return-to-Office Plans?”

  1. Jake Leone

    Literally, if California is serious about cutting Green House gas. California should, lead the nation, by implementing a law that states if a job can be done from home, it should be done from home if the employee wants to work from. And watch all the wag the dog executives leave for other states. Because Office Towers are monuments to executive inefficiency in the this the telecommuting age.

    Every technologist I know would prefer to work from home permanently. Your surveys are not asking the questions correctly, it is obvious. In fact they are meant to mislead the public into thinking technologists want that commute to return.

    Your question, about wanting to return to work for a few days a week. Should be restated to, would you prefer the option of working from home if the job can be done remotely. That is a better question to ask.

    As I predicted, Nick, you will start quoting surveys that prove the executives were correct to spend billions on new offices, no one ever really needed.

    There is no advantage in driving a car to work each day.
    – It wastes time (about 2-4 hours on Bay Area roads)
    – It requires you locate close to work (that’s an extra 24k a year rental cost, and astronomical ownership cost). Or a long and dangerous commute. Since most companies are just a few miles from billionaire’s
    – You spend money on gas, electricity, and cars, just to make more Green House gas, in order to kill the world, that’s the C-suite product.

    My only real contribution to work is what I type and what I say, and sometimes what I draw. I don’t work on a physical object. I don’t have to go to customer sites, in fact I rarely talk to a customers when we had the Rat Race, sales people did most of that customer facing work.

    Why on Earth, should I go drive to a work site?

    There is only on reason. Top executives spent billions on offices, and no one can dare see the mold that is growing on the egg on their faces. Lest they their jobs or their bonuses be in jeopardy.