Part 1: Return to the Office Series - Predicting the Return to the Office



Vaccination rates have been a cause of increased optimism and consumer activity throughout 2021. While vaccines are less effective in combating the Delta variant, they still reduce risk of infection by 66% (down from 91% when combating the pre-Delta strain of COVID-19) according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2 Given the combination of vaccination effectiveness and the speed with which the Delta variant appears to peak and then recede, these two pieces of information—the vaccination data in combination with certain countries where Delta has previously peaked— can serve as possible “leading indicators.” Utilizing these as a guide, as well as other data, we have constructed possible and probable return-to-office scenarios for the Americas, Asia Pacific (APAC) and Europe (EMEA).

The primary objective of the first report in our series is to use the data and information available to us at this time (i.e., mid-September) to forecast when most employees will return to the office. One of the key variables in predicting the return to the office is the trajectory of the virus itself. Clearly the situation remains fluid as the Delta variant of the COVID-19 virus continues to spread throughout the world. That said, there are also clear indications that the world is making significant progress towards achieving herd resiliency, and there are certain countries, such as India and France, where the Delta variant appears to have peaked and the situation is improving. In analyzing data from the World Health Organization, the virus surged in both countries for 6-8 weeks before trending downward. 1 Likewise, in the U.S., there are many states, such as California and Louisiana, where the pandemic curve appears to be bending in September right around the two-month-mark. These and other locations may offer some insight as to what is in store for the rest of the world, and so we take them into consideration in forming our analysis.


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