Working in modern office after returning from quarantine. Millennial lady in protective mask speaks on phone and looks at laptop at table with antiseptic in office interior, empty space

Seven in 10 companies plan to phase their employees back into office life by this fall, according to LaSalle Network’s “Office Re-Entry Index.” The data, from 350 CEOs, COOs, and human resources and finance leaders sheds light on how companies see the year taking shape regarding the workforce.

While companies want their employees on site, the shift will be gradual. More than three-quarters (77%) of the respondents said that they would adopt a hybrid model, with some employees in the office and others continuing to work from home. Most companies (52%) do not plan to mandate COVID-19 vaccination for returning employees, while nearly 40% are still undecided.

The biggest concern about office re-entry is fear. Both companies that have already started the re-entry process and companies that haven’t yet started the re-entry process report that managing employees’ fears surrounding commuting to work is the biggest obstacle. Cultural re-onboarding (i.e., helping employees re-acclimate to the office environment) is also a concern, as is the fact that many employees want to continue to working remotely.

“Nothing should be a surprise to employees,” said Tom Gimbel, Founder and CEO of LaSalle Network, in a press release. “Communication from leadership on any and all re-entry status updates should be communicated to staff regularly, even if the update is there are no updates. Employees want transparency now more than ever because it is directly tied to their health, safety, and mental wellbeing. With frequent communication and updates, it helps lower anxiety levels and gives employees ample time to ask questions and mentally prepare. Employees need time to re-acclimate, regardless of how long they’ve been with the organization. Good communication between employees and leaders will be key to smoothly returning to the office.”