These days, small talk among white-collar workers in Massachusetts often involves asking the question, “When are you going back to the office?”
All capacity restrictions on businesses will lift on May 29 — widely seen as the state’s full reopening date — but most office employers are still setting their own timelines. They are carefully gauging the preferences of their employees, who for the past year or more have grown accustomed to logging in from their kitchen tables and bedrooms — perhaps from somewhere other than Massachusetts.
Most companies say they will implement some form of a hybrid workplace, where employees will be in the office a certain number of days a week. But many are still figuring out their masking and vaccination protocols.
The Globe took the pulse of 13 large employers in a variety of sectors to get a better sense of when the hustle of the city’s business districts will come back to life, and what the workplace protocols may look like for these companies. (Employee counts are for Massachusetts.)
Cambridge, 1,800 employees
Akamai’s Kendall Square headquarters will remain closed through the end of the year, so its 1,800 employees will continue to work remotely.
BJ’s Wholesale Club
Westborough, 800 employees
The grocery chain has not set a reopening date for its corporate office, but it will implement a hybrid model when employees return. Separately, the company is downsizing its office footprint, so its new headquarters in Marlborough will be one-third smaller than its current one in Westborough, and it will employ at least 800 people.
Boston, 125 employees
Employees at the Boston cybersecurity firm have had the option to work from the company’s office in the John Hancock Tower for several months, but many are working remotely. Cybereason is planning a more formal post-Labor Day reopening, but expects to take a flexible approach, where workers can prioritize using the office for collaboration.
Hopkinton and other locations, 7,400 employees
One of the state’s largest tech employers expects more than 60 percent of its employees will work remotely on any given day. Dell employees are spread across Bedford, Cambridge, Concord, Franklin, Hopkinton, Needham, and Southborough offices.
Boston, 1,800 employees
Eastern Bank has not yet set a date for when its workers will return to the office. A spokesperson for the company said that it will depend on the status of in-person school, day care, and commuting options.
Boston, 5,400 employees
A spokesperson for the Boston-based financial services firm said the company will maintain a “dynamic working strategy, blending the best of both onsite and offsite flexibility.”
Cambridge, 1,900 employees
The nearly 2,000 “Googlers” in Massachusetts can work from home until September. Sundar Pichai, the company’s chief executive, wrote in a blog post that most employees will return on a hybrid schedule, meaning about three days in the office and two days “wherever they work best.”(That approach may not have a significant impact on daily foot traffic in Kendall Square, since Google is also planning to double its local workforce).
Google has not yet set a date for the reopening of its Boston or Cambridge offices.
Cambridge, 1,800 employees
Starting June 15, vaccinated employees at the marketing-tech firm will be able to work at the company’s Cambridge office without social distancing or wearing a mask. The company isn’t requiring vaccinations, and it is using the honor system for individuals to identify themselves as fully vaccinated.
Katie Burke, chief people officer of HubSpot, said returning to the office is “completely voluntary for all of our employees” and HubSpot will “support employees who feel more comfortable working from home for the foreseeable future.” HubSpot announced last August that it would start building a hybrid company, where employees can choose from “@office,” “@flex,” or “@home” work options. Office employees, who will come into work three or more days a week, will get their own desk, which they can adorn with family photos and succulents. Flex employees, who will be in the office two or fewer days per week, will work at shared “hotel desks.” HubSpot says it will assist flex and home employees with their remote-work setups.
Needham, 500 employees
The global research firm is planning a partial reopening of its Needham headquarters in June — at 25 percent capacity — but employees will not be required to return to the office and could still work remotely. In the long term, IDG is still figuring out how it might bring employees back in a hybrid model, allowing them more choice of work location.
Boston, 600 employees
Software firm LogMeIn is anticipating some employees will return to its office on Summer Street in Boston in July, following COVID-19 protocols. The company plans to remain “remote-centric” post-pandemic, and it will experiment with a hybrid model. LogMeIn was one of the first companies in the area to say it would significantly scale back its office space post-pandemic. Chief executive Bill Wagner has said he only expects 5 percent of employees to return five days per week.
Springfield, 4,000 employees
Beginning this summer, MassMutual will invite vaccinated employees interested in working in person to return to the office on a voluntary basis. A spokesperson for the Springfield financial services company said the company expects a broader-scale return in the fall that will be “phased and flexible.” The company is not requiring employees to get vaccinated.
Boston, 1,250 employees
The software firm located in the Seaport District will be shifting to a hybrid model. PTC will first test this approach in late May at its 250-person office in Israel, where workers will be expected to come into the office two or three days a week.
Boston, 6,000 employees
Online retailer Wayfair is targeting a late-summer return to the office, and it will initially give its employees the option to work from home two days a week to ease the transition.