TRD Insights: Most companies will reopen their offices in phases, CBRE global survey shows

Large majority plan to reconfigure office space, give employees option of working from home

New York Insights /
May.May 18, 2020 08:15 AM
A CBRE global survey of over 200 companies found the vast majority are taking a cautious approach to reopening their workspaces. (Credit: iStock)

A CBRE global survey of over 200 companies found the vast majority are taking a cautious approach to reopening their workspaces. (Credit: iStock)

As jurisdictions around the world have begun the tricky process of reopening their economies — all while hoping to avoid a resurgence of coronavirus in the process — a survey by CBRE has found that most companies are taking a cautious approach.

The survey included 203 large companies across the globe, spanning 4.2 billion square feet of office, industrial, retail and other kinds of workspace, and over 38 million workers. Of those companies, 72 percent said they planned to reopen in phases, “with defined percentages or groups of employees admitted over weeks or months.” Just over half of those surveyed said they would give employees the option to work from home “for the foreseeable future.”

“Our analysis of our clients’ return-to-work strategies shows that virtually all are engaged in detailed planning to ensure a careful and reasoned approach,” CBRE’s global lead for clients’ Covid-19 response, Karen Ellzey, said in a press release.

Other widespread strategies included the installation of signage, floor decals and other reminders in the workplace to promote social distancing, in conjunction with the establishment of space-use policies. A significant portion of the surveyed companies said they would introduce requirements for health screenings and face coverings in the workplace, though these measures were somewhat less common.

Workplace reopening strategies

Reopening strategyPercentage
Follow guidance from local governments and health agencies on social distancing 45%
Set own global social distancing standard that may exceed local guidance34%
Provide face coverings for employees59%
Require face coverings at all times at any company property28%
Require masks only at company facilities where mandated by local guidelines42%
Allow visitors to the workplace in the early phases of reopening21%
Require off-site self-screening for Covid-19 symptoms by employees before they arrive at the workplace45%
Conduct screening of employees on-site at every facility13%
Reopen as soon as government restrictions are lifted20%
Reopen after internal standards are met42%
Conduct phased reopening with defined percentages or groups of employees admitted over weeks or months72%
Give employees the option to work from home for the foreseeable future52%
Install signage82%
Establish space-use policies and guidelines for social distancing78%
Outline social-distancing zones with floor decals and other reminders74%
Reconfigure furniture layouts61%

SOURCE: CBRE survey


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