A new report from the Greater Washington Partnership revealed that employers in the National Capital Region that responded to their survey plan to have 72 percent of their employees return to the office by summer 2021, but a third of those respondents are still unsure of their reopening plans that far in advance.
The Greater Washington Partnership surveyed 430 employers in the Washington, Baltimore, and Richmond metro areas throughout the month of August. The participants included employers from a variety of industries, including Federal and local government. According to the Capital COVID-19 Survey, many employers are adopting a phased approach to office reopening, and about one-third of respondents are planning to return their workforce to office sites this fall.
As workers return, most employers plan to test for COVID-19 – but only if the tests cost less than $50 each. Only 10 percent of respondents said that their organization would require testing to return to the worksite. “While the Capital Region has been ramping up testing, there is no coordinated strategy or best practices for employers,” the report states. “A robust regionwide testing strategy that is timely, accessible, and affordable is needed to achieve our shared goal of reopening safely and sustainably.”
On workforce safety, about 70 percent of employers in the area are offering alternative work schedules to support the return to the office, and nearly 90 percent are offering other measures (i.e. physical distancing, requiring masks, limiting the number of people, etc.) to keep employees safe. Four out of ten employers plan to implement contact tracing efforts.
The Greater Washington Partnership also worked with regional transportation services to track how those services have been operating during the pandemic and gauge the safety of commuting to the worksite. Almost 50 percent of employers said they were concerned about public transit safety and had a low level of confidence that public agencies will be able to enforce social distancing and mask wearing on the commute.