Survey Reveals Tenants’ Thoughts on Returning to the Office

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As governments loosen restrictions put in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, property managers and tenants alike are planning return-to-work procedures that balance the needs of public safety with the practical considerations of opening up the office towers and welcoming workers back to the buildings. To find out what members think about returning to work, eServus conducted a survey to find out what’s on their minds as they and their companies make plans for coming back to the office. We know that the property managers are the experts when it comes to running their buildings, and many have already started implementing their welcome-back procedures. But there’s no existing playbook for the ongoing COVID-19 recovery process, so we hope that this feedback from our members will help to confirm that the property managers’ welcome-back strategies are addressing what’s most important to their tenants.

We received nearly 1,900 responses to our survey from eServus members in Toronto, Calgary, Vancouver and Edmonton. Over 86% of the respondents have been working from home since mid-March, around the time that the World Health Organization declared the COVID-19 outbreak a pandemic. We asked our members what their number-one concern was about returning to the office, and here are the top five concerns (ranked by frequency of mentions):

  1. Elevators
  2. Personal health and safety
  3. Public transit
  4. Physical/social distancing
  5. Office crowding/density

Elevators were the number-one concern in each city we surveyed, so it’s a good thing that that’s an area that the property managers appear to be paying a lot of attention to. (This article from BISNOW summarizes some of the challenges that property managers are facing to make sure their elevators are safe as employees return to the buildings.)

We asked if our members have received any communication from property managers or their tenant representatives about return-to-work policies and procedures. Over 75% of respondents said that they hadn’t, so there appears to be a receptive audience for property managers to communicate their return-to-work procedures to the tenants.

We asked our members what one thing they’d like to see the property managers do to make them feel safe about returning to the office. Here are the top five actions (ranked by frequency of mentions):

  1. Controlling elevator access
  2. Limiting access to the building to tenants and non-symptomatic people only
  3. Ensuring that surfaces are thoroughly cleaned and disinfected
  4. Maintaining social/physical distancing
  5. Consistently communicating building policies and procedures

Bravo to the property managers and the efforts of their building teams as they prepare to welcome their tenants back in the buildings. As with much of the COVID-19 pandemic, these are uncharted waters, and we hope that some of the feedback from our members has helped to confirm that the PMs’ welcome-back strategies are addressing their tenants’ concerns. If you’re a property manager who’d like more feedback from our members regarding coming back to the office – for example, you might be surprised to learn how many people intend to bring their own lunches! – e-mail me at and I’ll send you more information.

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