We encourage Capital Region employers to answer our 10-min Capital COVID Survey: Planning for the Return to Worksites by December 11, 2020. Your input will help us to provide an updated snapshot on the state of the Capital Region’s reopening plans & factors around other strategies that most influence employer decisions. Take the Survey »
The Greater Washington Partnership is about unity and solutions
Bringing people, organizations, and jurisdictions together to make the Capital Region of Baltimore, Washington, and Richmond, the world’s best place to live, work, raise a family, and build a business. The Capital COVID-19 Snapshot: Return to Work survey and transit tracker, conducted in partnership with public agencies and business organizations throughout the region, is designed to increase regional information and data sharing so employers, both large and small, can make more informed decisions about reopening, and public agencies can better understand when employees are expected to return to their offices and worksites.
The Capital COVID-19 Survey was conducted between August 10-28, 2020, with more than 430 unique employers participating from the Washington, Baltimore, and Richmond metro areas that employ 275,000 residents. Along with an analysis of employer reopening plans, this report includes public sector information, a Transit Tracker that provides ridership trends and the social distancing carrying capacity of the region's public transportation systems. The findings contained in this report will help employers and public agencies collaboratively reopen the Capital Region's economy safely, gradually and sustainably in the months ahead. The Partnership intends to update this product regularly as the region continues to reopen, so that all decision-makers and residents have access to regular, timely and actionable advice. As we work together to reopen the region safely, The Partnership encourages all employers and residents to do their part to help slow the spread of COVID-19 by following public health officials' guidance, wearing masks and observing social distancing guidelines.
Capital COVID Snapshot
The Greater Washington Partnership is most successful when aligned with our exceptional partners throughout the Capital Region. Thank you to the following partners for collaborating on this effort to ensure the Capital Region has a strong, safe recovery.
The return to worksites will be gradual
The health and safety of our regional workforce comes first.
Based on responses as of August 2020, more than 60% of employers plan for less than one third of all employees returning to worksites post Labor Day, with nearly 20% with no employees returning. Of the employers with plans, on average, just 72 percent of their employees are expected to return to the office by summer 2021. However, a third of responding employers are still unsure of their summer 2021 plans.
Decision-makers must continue to prioritize the health and safety of workers, and their families. By collecting and widely disseminating this information, leaders across organizations will be able to learn from each other and apply best practices to their operations.
Share of Workforce Expected Onsite Post Labor Day
Share of Workforce Onsite post Labor Day by State
Share of Workforce Onsite Over the Next Year
Share of Workforce Onsite post Labor Day by Worksite Size
While the pace and timing for returning employees to worksites remains fluid, as of August, more than a third of employers expect to shift some portion of their workforce to permanent telework.
Although 33% of responding employers remain unsure about shifting their workforces to permanent telework schedules, close to 50% of those with a plan said they expect at least 10% of their workforce to telework permanently.
Large organizations, those with more than 5,000 employees are more likely to favor permanent telework schedules - while many remain unsure only 10% do not have definitive plans for permanent shifts towards teleworking.
Nearly 7 in 10 employers are currently offering alternate work schedules to support employees.
Employers are implementing revised policies and procedures to promote the safety and well-being of employees and their families during this pandemic, with a majority offering flexible and remote work options, and/or paid or unpaid leave. Comments from employers indicated the new accommodations are heavily influenced by employee childcare and education needs.
Many employers are providing new flexible options for employees.
In addition to allowing more telework, over half of employers responding to the survey are changing existing schedules to accommodate employee needs and ensure safety protocols. In addition to the listed options, employers noted that they are also providing expanded employee assistance programs, access to additional resources for working parents, and providing childcare at their worksites.
Most employers are working to ensure physical distancing, requiring masks and limiting the number of people in the workplace.
Employers are actively working to mitigate the risk of viral spread by adjusting their procedures for those employees that do return to worksites. Four-in-ten employers plan to conduct contact tracing for infected employees but only one in ten expects to test their employees for COVID-19.
Most employers do not plan to regularly test employees but say they would test if tests were free
Only 10-percent of respondents indicated that their organization plans to require testing to enter a worksite.
A robust regionwide testing strategy that is timely, accessible, and affordable is needed to achieve our shared goal of reopening safely and sustainably. In addition to a robust testing strategy, there is a suite of actions employers are adopting to lower the transmission risk further. These include social distancing, contact tracing and requiring masks.
Half of employers will not test their employees if the cost per test were above $50.
While the Capital Region has been ramping up testing, there is no coordinated strategy or best practices for employers. A robust regionwide testing strategy that is timely, accessible, and affordable is needed to achieve our shared goal of reopening safely and sustainably. In addition to a robust testing strategy, there is a suite of actions employers are adopting to lower the transmission risk further. These include social distancing, contact tracing and requiring masks.
Today, most employees are teleworking or driving
Employers do not expect many employees to use public transportation in the near-term.
Teleworking use has grown more than 7x since February, while transit use has shrunk by 4x. The pandemic is likely to have long-lasting impacts on how employees commute to their worksites, but the full impacts may not be felt for many months.
We know that the region’s transit system will be critical to reopening the Capital Region's economy safely and sustainably once we are ready.
Employers lack confidence in the safety of public transportation during the pandemic.
As more businesses reopen and more employees return to worksites, employers are very concerned about transit’s ability to safely transport employees to worksites. The top concerns reported by employers were fear of crowding and whether riders will wear masks (as of August 2020, nearly all transit agencies in the Capital Region are requiring masks be worn on transit and are not reporting significant capacity issues that exceed social distancing capacity).