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COVID Delta Variant Upends Return To Office Plans

BOSTON (CBS) - With the CDC calling for a return to indoor masking for vaccinated and unvaccinated people in the face of the Delta variant, some local companies are pushing back their return to office dates or otherwise altering their plans.

"We rolled back at least a month and now you have to wear face coverings indoors unless you're alone in your office locked away," said Leigh Martinson, a Partner at the law firm of McCarter and English in Boston's Financial District.

Tsedal Neeley, a professor at Harvard Business School, says employees are anxious about how to protect themselves and their families and companies need to adapt, even if they have already set a return date.

"They need to take an approach, they need to announce it to their organization, and they have to be OK with changing plans to return immediately," Neeley said.

Neeley says companies should be aware that their employees work habits impact other people too.

"Unvaccinated children for example. So, if I go back to the office, how am I going to protect not only myself but my entire ecosystem," she said.

Tech research firm, IDG, opened its brand new corporate headquarters in Needham in June to any employee who wants to work there. But IDG will not require employees to return to the office until January of 2022.

"We actually made a decision that given the uncertainty that we would allow our employees to work from home and have that flexibility through the entire year," said IDG CEO Mohamad Ali.

Stephen Hassell, Vice President of Business Development for architectural firm SGA, says his business demands some in person collaboration. That is why the staff splits up and attends SGA's office in Boston's Financial District on different days.

Hassell looks around at the landscape in the Financial District, unsure of when things will fully return to normal.

"International Place is right next to us. Normal times, 7500 people work there. There is nobody home," Hassell said.

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