Companies have different plans on how and when their employees will return to the office

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How Did the Delta Variant Affect the Largest U.S. Companies’ Return to the Office Plans?

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This post was last updated September 15, 2021.

On March 11, 2020, COVID-19 was declared a pandemic. And, as a result of containment measures, daily life underwent necessary changes, including a switch to working from home (WFH) for a considerable share of the population. Although a return to the office — either total or partial through hybrid work policies — was discussed early on in the pandemic, it was repeatedly delayed.

Eventually, with much better knowledge of how the virus operates and vaccination efforts in full swing, a transition back to working from the office (WFO) seemed like a real possibility. In fact, some Texas metros had already brought more than one-third of employees back to the office in early spring, with other areas in the country soon joining them. For example, San Francisco office spaces also saw workers gradually return, as nonessential offices were allowed to reopen.

However, the Delta variant complicated matters, forcing companies to reevaluate the timing and scale of their return to the office. In this context, companies are deciding their work policies for the future — whether they consist of moving everyone back into the office when the situation allows, keeping all employees remote, or something in between.

However, stay-at-home orders and office capacity limits vary by state and county, depending on a variety of factors. And, while governments can mandate certain measures, the final decision on when — and how — employees go back to working from the office may differ from company to company. So, we compiled a definitive, regularly updated list of the work from home policies of 200 large companies in the U.S., as well as their plans for a return to the office. We separated companies based on their future work model plans, into (a) companies that will offer more opportunities for working from home, (b) companies that will implement a hybrid work model and (c) companies planning a full return to the office. Here is a list of 200 major U.S. companies that have announced their plans concerning working from home or working from the office:

Effects of the WFH Experiment: Some Companies See Value in Hybrid, Others Plan Full Return to Offices

For the last year, many companies have tested what it’s like to have a significant portion of their employees work remotely. The effects of long-term telecommuting have drawn plenty of attention. Productivity levels reportedly stayed even or increased alongside employee satisfaction, at the cost of difficulties in separating work and time after work and a lack of employee interaction. As a result of this experiment, some companies — including IBM, JPMorgan Chase, Target and Walmart — have decided it would be worthwhile to make flexibility for occasional remote work part of their company culture.

Other companies, AT&T and Boeing, plan to go one step further and provide employees with a hybrid work model even after COVID-19 is contained to an extent that would allow a return to the office. In particular, Alphabet-Google’s initial post-pandemic work model had employees in the office three days a week, but it was recently announced that up to 20% of the company’s employees will be able to work from home full-time.

Still, some companies announced their plans to fully return to the office once possible, taking precautionary measures to follow health and safety regulations. The most common concerns calling for a complete return to the office involve difficulties in maintaining company culture and camaraderie. Here are the companies that decided fully moving employees back into the office would be most beneficial:

Work-From-Home Catches on to Varying Extents with Different Industries

Below, we have listed 200 of the largest U.S.-based companies including all Fortune 100 companies, alongside their current work from home situation and any future plans they have announced. For readability, we grouped the companies into industries. Click the shortcuts below to navigate to an industry:

  1. Tech
  2. Telecommunications and media
  3. Financial
  4. Business Services
  5. Energy
  6. Other (healthcare, retail, capital goods, etc.)

Tech Giants Aim for More Post-Covid Flexibility in Working From Home

The innovative company culture commonly seen in tech companies — as well as the fact that many jobs in the tech sector could be moved online — meant that tech companies adapted better than most to working from home. Moreover, most tech giants — including IBM and Google’s parent company Alphabet — plan to give employees more opportunities to work from home after the pandemic. At the same time, even the partial office repopulation targets that tech companies set earlier in the year have been delayed until Q1 2022 at the earliest.

Earlier in 2021, Apple announced plans to call its workers back into the office three days a week starting in September. However, the tech giant has since pushed back the date for its partial return to the office until January at the earliest, being joined by ride hailing service Uber in delaying the initial timeframe for the workplace returning to the office.

Meanwhile, Microsoft will similarly keep a flexible, hybrid model even after the pandemic, with workers telecommuting half the time, or working fully remotely with manager approval. After setting a September 2021 target for returning to on-site work and being forced to delay to October, the company has now announced it is postponing returning to the office indefinitely, planning to do so once possible based on public health guidance.

Social media giant Facebook also sees benefits in continuing with remote work, as the company plans to include the possibility for employees to work fully remotely even after COVID-19, with CEO Mark Zuckerberg estimating that half of Facebook’s employees will continue to work remotely for the next five to 10 years.

Future work from home policies of other Fortune 500 tech companies vary. Among those planning a post-pandemic hybrid system are computer and printer company HP, as well as chipmakers Nvidia, Texas Instruments and Qualcomm. Meanwhile, Micron and Thermo Fisher plan to fully return to the office.

Work From Home Catches On with Large Telecommunications & Media Companies

Remote work was also widely adopted by companies operating in telecommunications, media and entertainment. For instance, Verizon is planning a work model where certain jobs that can be done remotely will have the option of full-time WFH. AT&T and ViacomCBS similarly plan to offer more flexibility for working from home. And, while there have been few announcements regarding future work from home plans from media and telecommunications companies lower in the Fortune 500 list, it’s possible that they could follow suit in offering more remote work options.

Meanwhile, Comcast is currently the only telecommunications and media company to announce plans for a full return to the office.

Financial Companies Gravitate Towards Full Return to the Office or Hybrid Models

Among financial companies — such as banks and insurance firms — the norm is still remote work based on guidelines given by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC).

However, the biggest bank in the U.S. — JPMorgan Chase — currently follows a hybrid work model. Moreover, once the situation allows, employees of JPMorgan may return to the office by rotation through a hybrid work policy.

Bank of America also currently has a policy in which employees alternate remote work with working in the office, a model which the company has followed since . However, that situation may change, as Bank of America plans to fully return to the office when possible. Other financial companies planning to fully return their workforce to the office include Citigroup and Goldman Sachs, while Morgan Stanley and Capital One are planning to provide more flexibility for working from home.

Wells Fargo was among the first banks to set a target date for a return to the office: September 6. However, the situation generated by the Delta variant has determined the company to push back the date until early October at the earliest.

At the same time, a considerable number of financial companies — including U.S. Bancorp, Travelers, Lincoln National and Truist — have also announced plans to offer employees the possibility to combine working from home with working in-office.

Business Service Companies Split Between More WFH and Full Return to the Office

The largest financial service company and card payment provider in the U.S. — Visa — alongside others like PayPal and Western Union intend to offer more employees the opportunity to work from home even after restrictions are lifted and new cases decline. At the other end, Omnicom and Interpublic expect their employees to return to in-office work once possible. Besides these, most companies offering business and financial services have yet to announce their future work from home models.

Energy Companies Mostly Stick to Working From Home for Corporate Staff — For Now

Companies in the energy industry faced one major challenge in adhering to health regulations and ensuring employee safety: The fact that a considerable share of their workforce is classified as essential or work in jobs that can’t be moved online. As such, many energy companies including Exxon Mobil and Chevron implemented work from home policies only for their office workers, while the rest of their staff continued working on-site with additional safety measures. Notably, Exxon and Chevron are #3 and #15 on the Fortune 100 list, respectively.

Also worth mentioning is that the majority of Fortune 100 energy companies still have their office-using workforce at least partially telecommuting. The exception is Ohio-based Marathon Petroleum, which has switched to a hybrid model during the pandemic and plans to continue this arrangement down the line.

And, while several major companies operating in the energy sector have not fully announced their plans for work from home policies after restrictions are fully lifted, Duke Energy, PBF Energy and Valero have announced they plan to fully return their workforce to the office as soon as the situation permits.

Companies in Other Industries Have Varied Return to the Office Plans

Tip: Use the drop-down list in the table below to navigate between industries.

Office employees of Walmart — the biggest U.S. company by revenue — are currently still working from home for the time being. However, the company’s approximately 10,000 tech workers may continue to work remotely for longer — or even indefinitely. Likewise, after analyzing the benefits and drawbacks of remote work, Target has also announced the possibility that its corporate workers may continue hybrid work down the road, and Macy’s is also looking toward more flexibility for working from home after the lessons learned during the pandemic.

At the same time, Walmart’s main retail competitor — Amazon — was initially planning a complete return to the office as early as June 2021. However, the company has since changed its plans, announcing in June that it would join other companies in granting more remote work opportunities later on and delaying its plans to return its workforce back to on-site work.

Among capital goods firms, two companies have announced changes in their office space usage compared to pre-pandemic times: Raytheon Technologies is looking to reduce its total office footprint by 25%, while Boeing is moving toward a long-term hybrid work policy.

When it comes to healthcare companies, three on our list have announced their post-pandemic work policies: Johnson & Johnson, Abbott Laboratories and Bristol-Myers Squibb are planning to fully return their workers to the office.

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The conclusion is that work from home policies vary greatly by industry and even between companies operating in the same sector. While some companies with more essential jobs may see a complete or almost complete return to the office, others plan to move some job positions to permanent work from home or offer employees more flexibility through hybrid work policies.

This list is continually updated as more information from companies becomes available. As this article is curated manually, we cannot guarantee the timeliness or accuracy of the information. Latest update: September 15, 2021.

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