The Workplace Update: Who’s Opening and Who’s Not?

The Workplace Update: Who’s Opening and Who’s Not?

By Tricia O'Connor

Bolstered by vaccine distribution and loosening state guidelines, business leaders are re-evaluating whether to return to the office. 

Research published in late January by the National Association for Business Economics found that just 11% of respondents expect all staff members at their companies to return in person eventually. 

However, another report indicates roughly 40% of employers that shifted to remote work at the start of the pandemic are planning to have their workers return to the office by the end of this month.

Employees have a different viewpoint altogether. More than half said they would want to keep working from home even after the pandemic, according to a separate survey by the Pew Research Center.

So, what’s a business to do? Here’s a roundup of how some enterprise organizations – broken down by industry sector – are handling the transition.  


Alphabet (Google)Google is delaying its more than 130,000-plus employees’ return to offices to September 1, 2021 and will expect employees to report to work in-person for at least three days a week thereafter. The announcement was made in December 2020 in an email from CEO Sundar Pichai, where he also stated employees should live within a commuting distance to their assigned office.

Facebook – The social media giant announced in May 2020 a permanent work-from-home policy, but employees need to make that choice and may suffer a pay cut depending on where they live. Facebook has given its 50,000 corporate employees the option to work remotely at least until July 2021. The US offices will remain closed until a COVID-19 is widely available, a company spokesperson said in December. 

Apple – CEO Tim Cook recently told employees not to expect to return to work until June 2021. Some employees were asked to return to the office in May and June last year as part of its phased reopening. Cook has said working remotely is “not like being together physically.”

Twitter – Twitter employees can choose to work from home indefinitely. The social media powerhouse was the first major U.S. company to make such a public announcement in May 2020 about its permanent remote plans. Twitter has more than 5,000 employees. 

Microsoft – Microsoft is banking on a “hybrid workplace” to promote flexible working plans for its future. Employees can now work from home freely for less than 50% of their working week or ask managers to approve permanent remote work. Employees who opt for the permanent remote work option will give up their assigned office space, but still have options to use touchdown space available at Microsoft’s offices.


Amazon – The retail tech behemoth said it will allow employees to continue working from home until June 2021. The company is also moving ahead with brick-and-mortar growth projects. Amazon recently announced a $1.4 billion investment to expand its physical offices in six U.S. cities and hire 3,500 new employees who will report into those hubs.

Walmart – Corporate employees can continue remotely until at least July 5, 2021. A phased return to the office is expected to begin shortly after. 

Shopify – Our only Canadian entrant on this list, Shopify is joining Twitter in shifting toward a permanent work-from-home model. The e-commerce company employs 5,000 people. Offices that do reopen will be limited to 20 –25% capacity. 

Target – Target’s 8,500 corporate employees won’t have to return to the office until the fall. They were originally slated to come back in June, but the company continues to focus on building a hybrid model of remote and on-site work to allow for flexibility. A small portion of workers who need to work in the headquarters have safely been back for a while. 


Goldman Sachs – This investment bank is not embracing the work-from-home model. In February, CEO David Solomon announced the next phase of the firm’s return-to-office plan and that employees will begin learning when they’ll be asked to return to their respective offices. Previously, Solomon had said this about remote work: “it is not ideal for us and it’s not a new normal.” 

J.P. Morgan Chase – The bank began pushing employees to return to the office in September, with less than stellar results. A number of workers were sent home after testing positive for coronavirus. It’s unclear at this time how many of the company’s 257,000 employees are working in offices or branches.  

HSBC – Bucking the trends set by Goldman Sachs and J.P. Morgan, this British bank has announced plans to reduce its global office space by 40% over the next several years. HSBC CEO Noel Quinn said the bank will move toward a “more hybrid model” of working in the future. 

Other Sectors

Salesforce – The company has adopted a Work From Anywhere approach for the majority of its global workforce. There are three types of work experiences for employees – fully remote, flexible schedules where employees are in-office a few days a week, and in-office work will be required for a small portion of employees. 

General Motors – The Detroit motor company will not require white-collar, salaried employees to return to the office until June 2021. Some employees, like engineers, have already returned to work at the headquarters. Meanwhile, assembly workers have been back to work since last May, but the plants are still not operating at full capacity. 

Hubspot – The Boston-based software firm gives employees three work options to choose from: @office, where employees come into the office at least three days a week, @flex, where employees report to the office two days a week, and @home, where employees work remotely. This rollout began in January. All employees have the option to change their work placement once per year. 

Future-Proof Your Company

COVID-19 was the third leading cause of death in 2020. Moving forward, experts hope it will resemble flu. If the coronavirus persists in some way, businesses will need a way to keep their employees and visitors safe. 

Early in the pandemic, EBI recognized a need for comprehensive health and safety solutions and partnered with a panel of medical and technology experts to create EBI Workplace Health & Safety. This end-to-end solution is a secure U.S. cloud-based, customizable platform providing modular options for retailers and all organizations to protect their people and their livelihoods. 

Contact us to learn more about EBI WHS. Or you can assess your organization’s health and safety risk mitigation plan with our FREE 30-minute COVID-19 Response Review. This exploratory discussion reviews your existing protocols with the goal of protecting your staff and visitors while maximizing your budget.

About the Author

Tricia O'Connor

Tricia O'Connor

Writer. Digital marketer. Storyteller. An award-winning writer and editor, Tricia O'Connor is the Marketing Content Manager at EBI. Tricia worked as a broadcast and print journalist for nearly two decades writing and producing programming for high-profile networks like ESPN Radio, History Channel, and Hallmark Channel, as well as contributing editorial work to publications nationwide. Tricia joined the EBI marketing team in 2019 and is responsible for content strategy, development, and engagement. Tricia earned a master's degree in journalism from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and is a proud undergraduate alumna of Wheaton College in Massachusetts.

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