Many Companies Have No Return to Workplace Date

A new survey reveals nearly half of businesses whose workplace plans were upended by the latest COVID-19 variant have not communicated plans for returning to the physical workplace.

Conducted by The Conference Board, the survey found only 9 percent of employees are working in the office full time. What’s more, concerns about contracting COVID-19 and exposing family members have doubled over the last seven months.

The latest workforce survey from The Conference Board captured the thoughts of more than 2,000 U.S. workers. Respondents weighed in on topics including returning to the workplace, career plans, factors driving them to pursue new job opportunities, mental health, and more.

Key findings include: 


  • The recent rise of COVID-19 cases resulted in 71 percent of respondents’ companies delaying plans to return to the workplace or reverting to remote/hybrid work.
  • Nearly half (48 percent) have not determined a date to return to the physical workplace.
  • Less than one in 10 survey respondents (9 percent), who are primarily knowledge workers, are in the office full time.
  • 46 percent are fully remote.
  • 45 percent work a hybrid schedule, with some days remote and some in the office.


  • 48 percent say exposing family members to COVID-19 was among their greatest concerns in returning to the workplace.
  • 48 percent say contracting it personally was among their greatest concerns.
  • 43 percent question the wisdom of returning to the workplace given the belief that productivity remained high while working remotely, the same as in May 2021.
  • One in five (20 percent) are not at all comfortable returning.
  • Two in five (40 percent) are moderately comfortable returning to the workplace.


  • Better pay (45 percent), career advancement (39 percent), and the ability to work from anywhere (28 percent) remain the top reasons workers left or intend to leave their jobs.
  • Only 7 percent cite concerns over vaccine mandates as the reason they left or intend to leave.
  • Millennials left or plan to leave their jobs at nearly three times the rate of Baby Boomers:
    • Millennials: 30 percent
    • Gen X: 17 percent
    • Baby Boomers: 11 percent
  • Retirement was cited as the top reason Baby Boomers left or intend to leave their jobs in the next six months (36 percent).


  • Nearly a quarter (24 percent) report decreased levels of engagement. That’s an increase from 19 percent in August 2021 and 15 percent in May 2021, demonstrating a steady decline in engagement levels over the past eight months.
  • Individual contributors report declines in engagement levels at nearly three times the rate of CEOs.
  • Nearly one-third of workers report their level of engagement increased during the pandemic.


  • Women reported their mental health declined during the pandemic at a higher rate than men:
    • Women: 54 percent
    • Men: 41 percent
  • Millennials and Gen X report a deterioration of their mental health more than Baby Boomers:
    • Millennials: 54 percent
    • Gen X: 52 percent
    • Baby Boomers: 42 percent
  • More individual contributors reported experiencing a deterioration of their mental health than CEOs:
    • Individual contributors: 50 percent
    • CEOs: 38 percent

The Conference Board is the member-driven think tank that delivers insights for what’s ahead. Founded in 1916, it is a non-partisan, not-for-profit entity.