CHICAGO (CBS) — With so many people now working from home, many employees and employers alike are now wondering if it will become permanent or semi-permanent.

Andy Challenger of the executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas joined CBS 2’s Brad Edwards and Irika Sargent on “Hour 18” Sunday to explore what the future of work might look like given the changes brought on by the coronavirus pandemic.

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The firm recently polled 300 companies about their plans once the stay-at-home order is fully lifted. Challenger said the companies do not intend to bring everyone back to the office right away when that happens, and some plan to keep some employees working from home permanently.

“Companies are not going to snap back into place and send all their employees back into the office; into their worksites immediately, and in fact, about 28 percent of companies that we surveyed said they are going to make some of their positions; some of their employees permanently work from home employees. So they’ve invested in the infrastructure, the hardware, the software; created the policies, and companies are going to be keeping their employees at home for some period of time.”

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Many companies have invested a lot in changing workflow and technology to allow people to work from home – and fewer people actually going to the office is likely part of a long-term future, Challenger said.

“This transition from people always being in the office to working more from home was already in the works before COVID-19 hit, and as we know, crises accelerate the adoptions of new technology. But I think you’re going to see a lot of companies that have now jumped over the hurdle, have people working from home, continue to keep portions of their workforce out of the office, and maybe even reduce the size of their offices around the country,” he said.

Still, some people will be going back to the office as the situation with the coronavirus pandemic changes, and that transition is bound to provoke anxiety. Employees will have to manage that, Challenger said.

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“Employees are going to be, and rightfully so to a degree, fearful of coming back to the workplace. So companies are going to have to take a multi-pronged approach to convince them that it’s safe; to talk about the benefits of why it’s valuable to get together and meet in person when people have some of a lived experience now of being productive at home,” he said, “and they’re also just going to have to talk about how to safely get to the office. It’s going to be a while before you see packed ‘L’ train cars and CTA buses, so figuring out how to safely get people to the office, it’s a whole ’nother component.”