Spread of Delta Variant Complicates Companies’ Office-Return Plans

July 28, 2021

Yesterday, the CDC announced that vaccinated Americans should once again wear masks in indoor public places. This reversal of course from guidelines established just two months ago comes as the Delta variant spreads across the country. As a result, companies that intended to bring their employees back into the office in the coming months are now reconsidering their reopening plans. 

For instance, Apple hoped to bring staff back into its corporate offices by September but have now pushed that plan back to at least October. At Google, meanwhile, some employees who voluntarily returned to the office will now be required to wear facemasks. Several hospital systems are even considering the implementation of vaccination requirements for all staffers in light of the highly contagious Delta variant. All together, companies and organizations across all industries are once again facing high degrees of uncertainty due to the pandemic.

“It’s emotionally draining on all of us, and it drives the top management teams crazy,” said Stanford University psychology professor Bob Sutton. According to legal experts, companies likely have the right to require staff-wide vaccinations in order for people to return to work. “At the beginning, there were a lot of employers that were concerned about jumping in too soon and being the one out front — it is a divisive issue,” said employment lawyer David Barron. “The calculus starts to shift a little bit when you see another spike.”


  1. Why are many companies now reconsidering their office reopening plans?
  2. Do you think more companies should require their employees to get vaccinated? Why or why not?

Source: Lauren Hirsch and Kellen Browning, “Delays, More Masks and Mandatory Shots: Virus Surge Disrupts Office-Return Plans,” The New York Times, July 23, 2021.