A Third of US Companies Do Not Know When They’ll Reopen Workplace

The Conference Board polled more than 1,100 businesspersons in a cross-section of industries in August 2020 to better understand their return-to-work plans. More than a third of them (35%) said the timing of when their companies will reopen the workplace is still unknown.

Highlights from the survey:

  • Only 60% of companies have consulted their workers about their levels of readiness and comfort in returning to the workplace

  • 13% of companies have remained open throughout the pandemic

  • 39% of companies plan to reopen by the first quarter of 2021

  • 67% are requiring screening, testing, or temperature checks in the office

  • Only 5% say a readily available vaccine would be a significant factor in the timing of a return to the workplace

  • Despite health organization guidance regarding social distancing, only 46% planned for staggered shifts within the workday or work week to reduce worker contact

  • Most popular actions businesses are taking to safeguard their workers:

    • Purchasing safety equipment (e.g., masks, thermometers, contactless entry devices, sanitization devices) - 82%

    • Creating new workplace policies requiring social distancing (e.g., limiting size of in-person meetings or usage of common areas) - 80%

    • Preparing workspace for return of workers (e.g., deep cleaning or disinfecting) - 78%

  • Least popular actions businesses are taking to safeguard their workers:

    • Providing childcare options for workers (e.g., on-site childcare, flexible scheduling to meet childcare needs) - 19%

    • Implementing safety measures and/or policies for workers taking public transportation (e.g., requiring more frequent screening or providing extra safety supplies for workers who use public transportation or shared shuttles) - 13%

“Companies that sought worker sentiment about their comfort levels were more likely to implement safety measures specifically for workers taking public transportation, revise work-from-home policies, and provide childcare options,” said Rebecca Ray, Executive Vice President of Human Capital at The Conference Board. “Notably, these top worker concerns were low on the overall list of safeguards that organizations are implementing, indicating that they are more important to employees than employers may realize. This disconnect reinforces the need for companies to receive buy-in from their most precious resource – their people – especially about matters as consequential as this one.”

Source: The Conference Board