Robin releases data tracking the return to the office by enterprises in the US and worldwide

The RTO push within the US is lagging behind several other countries, the report found, saying the transition could be the "calm before the storm" for many companies if they don't get a grip on matters.

back to the office

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As the COVID-19 vaccine rollout continues, many U.S. enterprises are wondering—and worrying—what the right path is when considering the best working environments for their employees. Among questions: Do they stay remote, settle perhaps on a hybrid model or can they safely and soundly move back to a mostly RTO policy? According to a new study from the workplace software firm Robin, its findings suggest U.S. companies are being far more cautious about the RTO pivot. Particularly, U.S. businesses, it says, ranked 14th globally when deciding whether employees should increasingly make the move back to the in-house, office environment. 

To produce this new report (its second), Robin says its data science team "analyzed millions of real-life desk, conference room, and office asset reservations to identify which countries/industries had the most employees working from the office and how often." 

Robin maintains that the U.S. slipped three spots from its previous report about RTO, and is now falling behind other countries that have had similar vaccination program measures including Mexico, France, Germany and the United Kingdom. 

SEE: Wellness at work: How to support your team's mental health (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Still, Robin maintains that when comparing how the in-and-outs of RTO strategies within industries in February, the total number of U.S. employees heading back to the office increased 2.5 times in March 2021. According to Robin, the average U.S. office now operates at 20% capacity on any given weekday.

And RTO strategies widely range among companies, Robin says. Mainly, though, the firm says its data illustrates that most industries are following two approaches to figuring out how to go forward in the COVID climate. 

On the one hand, companies are bringing several workers back into the office but doing so intermittently (around one of two days per month). On the other hand, Robin maintains that companies are having success by having a smaller percentage of their workforce work from the office more often. 

SEE: COVID vaccination policy (TechRepublic Premium)

Robin goes on to cite a recent article by the Wall Street Journal, "The Post-Pandemic Office is Already Here – in Australia," to back up its findings. The firm says its data confirms the reporting by the WSJ, which suggests companies can reopen the office for workers if they follow some of the aggressive measures Australia and New Zealand have taken when addressing COVID. 

The average employee within the region, according to Robin, can be found in the office five times within a two-week time period (or 10 business days). "At this rate, we believe Australians and New Zealanders will be coming into the office three times per week by the end of May," Robin says.  

Robin says the data it culled together for its RTO report illustrates that businesses ought to adjust their office policies and spaces to buttress the hybrid workplace. "This is the 'calm before the storm' for U.S. businesses," Robin says in a press release. It adds, "Workplace leaders need to quickly enact an RTO strategy that will motivate people to come into the office and allow them to experience it in a positive and safe way."  

You can check out Robin's full infographic—one showing how the U.S. is stacking up to other countries dealing with the RTO COVID dilemma—here

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By Eric Allen Been

Eric Allen Been is a writer and editor who is from Louisville, Kentucky, and currently based in the Cincinnati area. His work has appeared in Vox, the Atlantic, the Boston Globe, the New Republic, VICE, Harvard Magazine, MIT's Undark and other public...