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A state-by-state return to the workplace

A cautious return to the workplace

Across the country, people are starting to go back to the office. There are signs that the worst economic effects of the pandemic are behind us, like the 2.5M jobs created in May. The stock market responded to the positive jobs report with the DJIA climbing 800 points in a single day. Momentum to reopen is building as states lift their stay at home orders, and people tentatively return to the workplace. 

At Envoy, we help you manage everything that comes through your office doors, from visitors to employees to packages. Our access to aggregate workplace data provides us with a unique view into how the world is returning to the office. While there’s a lot to sift through, one thing has become clear to our data scientists: some states are embracing the return to work whole-heartedly, while others are preceding more cautiously back to the workplace.

Who’s going back

It’s starting to look like the pandemic will have a lasting impact on how we work. But is remote work really the future of collaboration? Is the physical office going to be entirely obsolete? We turned to our customers to find out. 

In May, we surveyed 1500 companies about their back to work plans. Of the companies we surveyed, 75% said they are targeting a return to work by the end of June. 

75% of companies are planning to return to work by end of June

The experts at Bain & Company seem to agree, they project 75% of companies will be back to work by the end of August. The data – and the analysts – agree that we’re going back. While the pandemic has changed our relationship to the office, at Envoy we believe that the physical workplace is an essential part of getting work done. The offices we return to will look different; workplace leaders are quickly adopting touchless technology, there will be physical distancing requirements within the office, and employees will be screened for illness before coming to work. Curious to learn more about how workplace experts are imaging the transformation? In May we hosted a panel with workplace leaders from Okta and Buzzfeed where they share their plans.

Envoy platform data corroborates the suggestion of a back-to-the office trend. We looked at daily entries to offices by visitors and employees to understand the impact of the pandemic on who’s going to work. An entry represents someone coming to the office and signing in with Envoy Visitors. Daily sign-ins bottomed out to 12,000 per day in mid-April when most states had stay at home orders in effect. They have been climbing steadily since then with no sign of slowing down. We are now seeing over 25,000 sign-ins per day in June from our customers, a 108% increase from April!

We are now seeing over 25,000 sign-ins per day in June from our customers, a 108% increase from April!

Average Daily Entries to the Office

However, the return is not even across the United States. The decision to reopen is largely made by state and local governments, so there is a big difference in office entry trends by state. While all states saw the lowest entry volume in April, Georgia lagged behind the pack reaching it’s lowest entry volume in the middle of the month. The dropoff of people in the office didn’t last long – Georgia lifted its stay at home order on April 24th and entries jumped in May. By the start of June, the state was at 400% of their lowest level. California and Florida are also showing signs of reopening, both states are at 220% of their April low. 

Georgia, Florida, and California have quickly returned to the office

Who’s taking their time

While some states are chomping at the bit, others are taking a more measured approach. New Jersey is only at 130% of April levels and it’s stay at home order expired on June 9th. New York is at 182% of April entry levels. This state was one of the hardest hit by the pandemic and is clearly making sure they are prepared to head back to the office. Texas is also seeing a more gradual return to the workplace despite its stay at home order expiring relatively early on April 30th. This state’s measured approach could be part of the broader trend of people preferring to work from home even if their office is open.

Texas, New Jersey, and New York are returning to work more slowly

The return to the workplace is happening

The return to the workplace is happening. While industry leaders are quickly adapting to the new reality, there is no guidebook on how to re-open. We are seeing a different approach state by-state with some states bringing people back quickly, while others are taking a more measured approach. The stakes are high, workplace leaders want to keep employees safe and make sure employees feel comfortable returning to the workplace. Here at Envoy we will continue to learn, teach, and build tools that help you reopen safely.