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2020 Return to work survey

Evolving Workforce Expectations

About the study

As a company focused on Boldly Transforming the Human Experience, we view challenges and opportunities through a deeply human and personal lens. For us, it was about going beyond just the physical shifts. We wanted to clarify how we, as individuals, have responded to the sudden change in our work styles and work environments.

Research Objectives

Determine the impact COVID has had on work productivity

Uncover insights on a human level that will drive return to office initiatives

Provide support and context for decision-makers for workplace re-entry

Reveal the future role the office, both culturally and physically

Key Insights

Below is a sample of our survey findings. For full results and a custom analysis of your workforce contact us.

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Purposeful and visible changes to increase safety measures in the office are top of mind to assure the workforce that re-entry is safe


There is a strong tension between wanting to return to the office and anxiety over health and safety


People are craving clear, consistent, and reassuring communication to reduce anxiety around the return to the office environment

Webinar Series


The Tension Tightrope

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The Generation Gap

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Role of the Office

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Flexible Futures

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Play Video

The Tension Tightrope

How to balance employee expectations and safety upon re-entry

Our Workforce Webinar Series kicked off on August 26 with The Tension Tightrope. NELSON Workplace Practice Leader Barbara Riekse is joined by ThinkLab President Amanda Schneider and Ferrara Senior Workplace Experience Leader Emma Waterman to discuss challenges and opportunities of workplace re-entry post COVID-19.

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The Generation Gap

An in-depth look at differences in employee expectations 

Our Workforce Webinar Series continued on September 16 with The Generation Gap. NELSON’s Haril Pandya was joined by GenGuru Founder and author David Stillman, and ThinkLab President Amanda Schneider to explore the different expectations each generation in the workplace will have when returning to the office.

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The Role of the Office

How the physical office is evolving to meet workforce needs

In the third in our Workforce Webinar Series, teammates Deanne Erpelding and David Wagner were joined by guests Tony Fedel of The Clorox Company and Amanda Schneider of ThinkLab. This discussion was guided by three themes—starting with overarching real estate strategy and ending with the dynamic office design—that will redefine the role of the office of today and the future. Watch now.

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Flexible Futures

What to Expect from the Workplace in 2021 and Beyond

In the final presentation of our Workforce Webinar Series, NELSON’s Vicki Eickelberger was joined by Design Futurist AJ Paron to take a future-focused approach to what’s next for the workplace.

Key Takeaways

  • As people return to a focus on their basic needs, they crave reassurance and confidence from companies that safety and security are a priority
  • Moving forward, personal autonomy and flexibility are going to be non-negotiable for how, when, and where teams accomplish their work
  • The office environment remains important, but plays a different role in the work-life balance equation than it has historically

How does this compare to your workforce?

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Working with you, to get you back to work

SPARC: Space Planning & Assessment in Response to COVID

As we collectively transition into the next phase of COVID-19 containment, we’re here to guide you through the process of assessing your space based on your company’s approach to returning to your workplace. Our tiered service packs allow you to quickly assess your needs and identify what’s right for you.

Learn more COVID-19 Resources

Leveraging Data & Design to Drive Confidence in Returning to the Workplace

NELSON’s workplace practice leader Barbara Riekse talks with ThinkLab about our Evolving Workforce Expectations study and what it will take to make our workforce feel comfortable in the future.

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Work after COVID-19


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