November 2021

The New Workplace Employer Report

Presented by:

The pandemic has redefined how we work, where we work, and ushered in a new era of employer policies and programs – it’s a new workplace. In this report, 423 business leaders share their current plans for reopening and returning to the workplace, how they’re approaching COVID-19 policies, and managing a distributed workforce.

Returning to the Workplace

Today, “going to work” has a different meaning than it did a few years ago. Most companies do not require employees to be in the workplace physically and, for employees who are in the workplace, the majority are only there a few days a week. When employees do go back to the workplace – now or in the future – the workplace they once knew will likely have fewer people gathering in meeting rooms and there will be more distance between workstations. As for employers who have not yet returned to the workplace, 45% are still undecided. 

Regarding Reopened Workplaces:
Hybrid Work Model
% of Returned Employees
Decision Factors
Regarding Unopened Workplaces:
Decision Factors
Regarding workplace management:
Workplace Safety Plan
Workplace Access
Workplace Design

Employer COVID-19 Policies

Employer policies have evolved since vaccines were first introduced in early 2021, influenced by emerging regulations in various states, CDC guidance, and local attitudes toward vaccination. If the Biden Administration’s COVID-19 Action Plan survives legal challenge, we would expect to see major shifts in employer policies. Most employers require their employees to receive the COVID-19 vaccine prior to returning to the workplace, while nearly half of employers require a negative COVID-19 test for a variety of reasons prior to returning to the workplace. Although COVID-19 vaccination is required by most employers, many are undecided about what course of action they’ll take if employees refuse to get vaccinated for an unapproved reason.

Regarding COVID-19 Testing:
Regarding Vaccination Policies:
Requirements by Job Type
Regarding Vaccination Support:
On-Site Vaccine Access

Managing a Distributed Workforce

Employers’ stance on employee-requested relocation has evolved since we last researched this topic. More than half of employers will allow their employees to permanently relocate to a new state, and they are not planning to adjust salaries due to cost of living/labor market changes.

Regarding Relocation & Expansion:
Pandemic Relocation
Pandemic Expansion
Pandemic Expansion by State
Regarding Compensation:
Geographic Adjustments
Relocation Guidelines
Relocation Adjustments (Lower)
Relocation Adjustments (Higher)

Caring for Employees

Employers continue to prioritize the wellbeing of their employees. Most employers implemented new strategies in the last 18 months to support the overall wellbeing of their people. Mental health support, team engagement activities, and increased communication about benefits and perks are the top three strategies employers have added or expanded to their wellbeing programs.

Regarding Employee Wellbeing:
Strategy Implementation
Strategy Details
Regarding Talent Acquisition & Retention:
Strategy Implementation
Strategy Details
Regarding Support for Parents and Caregivers:
Strategy Implementation
Strategy Details
Investments for Parents of School-Age Children
Investment Details


Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, Sequoia has conducted ongoing research to understand how employers have adjusted to the evolving conditions of the workplace. This report focuses on employers’ perspectives about returning to the workplace now that COVID-19 vaccines are widely available, how they are shaping their COVID-19 policies, and their approaches to managing distributed environments.

Insights from this report were gathered from a survey of 423 business leaders, who represent mostly-technology companies based in California, conducted from October 14-25, 2021. Sequoia is committed to continuing research to understand the new workplace and share our learnings to help people-driven businesses make informed decisions about their people programs and practices.