How and When to Return to the Office

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After a year of working from home, countless Zoom meetings, and virtual conferences, nonprofits and their investment service providers are now planning their approach as more businesses re-open. Recognizing that the timing of returning to the office and holding in-person meetings and events is fluid—and heavily influenced by culture and geography—we polled endowments and foundations and investment service providers to better understand their organizations’ response to this shift. Our hope is that this information can provide insight to help your organization plan for the new “normal.”



Nearly 40% of respondents stated their organization is open to employees currently in some capacity. Another 50% expect to return to their office by third quarter. As mentioned above, the timing of such plans is changing rapidly as organizations continue to assess risk within their regions and incorporate the latest guidance from regulatory and health authorities.

In spite of plans to return to the office, overwhelmingly, respondents believe that the pandemic has brought about a change to the way they work. While a quarter of participants expect business to continue as normal, nearly two-thirds expect a more flexible work schedule going forward, and 28% expect more employees working from home on a more permanent basis.1



Over 90% of organizations expect to have Board/service provider meetings occur in-person in 2021, with the majority (over two-thirds) expecting to start later in the second or third quarters of this year. Going forward, over 75% of organizations expect to make greater use of virtual formats, in addition to regular in-person meetings.



Most investment managers do not know when the travel of visitors or their own staff will be permitted. However, approximately 20% are currently willing to accept visitors or travel to clients. While this number is expected to grow as the year progresses, investment managers are primarily responding to requests, not wanting to push the issue.



As Zoom fatigue sets in, many of us are ready to return to in-person events. Our poll shows that 40% are ready today, and by year end, nearly 90% of respondents said they will feel comfortable attending events in person. Many respondents were neutral to the safety procedures that they would want to see; however, the one exception seems to be a preference for limited attendance. Overwhelmingly, most respondents would prefer to attend events with less than 100 people.

Interactive Results


FEG Flash Poll collects data from institutional investors in a wide variety of segments to provide insight on current topics. This poll looked at questions related to a return to the office, meetings, and events as more people are vaccinated and states ease regulations. FEG received responses from 124 participants, where more than ¾ respondents were staff. We would like to thank all survey participants for their contributions and hope they find the results valuable.


During the first quarter 2021 conference calls with recommended asset managers, FEG’s Research analysts inquired about our manager’s current office occupancy status and plans to return to the office, accept visitors, and resume travelling. We collected responses from almost 300 of our asset managers with recommended or rated strategies during our calls through April 29, 2021.

1 Respondents could select more than one answer


This report was prepared by Fund Evaluation Group, LLC (FEG), a federally registered investment adviser under the Investment Advisers Act of 1940, as amended, providing non-discretionary and discretionary investment advice to its clients on an individual basis. Registration as an investment adviser does not imply a certain level of skill or training. The oral and written communications of an adviser provide you with information about which you determine to hire or retain an adviser. Fund Evaluation Group, LLC, Form ADV Part 2A & 2B can be obtained by written request directed to: Fund Evaluation Group, LLC, 201 East Fifth Street, Suite 1600, Cincinnati, OH 45202 Attention: Compliance Department.

Neither the information nor any opinion expressed in this report constitutes an offer, or an invitation to make an offer, to buy or sell any securities.

This report is prepared for informational purposes only. It does not address specific investment objectives, or the financial situation and the particular needs of any person who may receive this report.

Published May 2021.