I shot a quick video of the issue:
When we switch themes, the orb reappears but functionality does not return to normal, then the orb will disappear again and be replaced with "Start" written in text. No odd group policies are enabled (not that I am aware of), the default theme is aero, the machine is completely up to date. Rebooting temporarily fixes the issue, but returns shortly thereafter to no rhyme or reason. I am grateful for any suggestions.