- HR executives generally say their companies will look to state and local authorities to decide when and how to reopen worksites, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey results released April 20. While 13% of respondents said they would follow the federal government's lead, a combined 66% said they'd make decisions based on state and local government info, local scientific experts and internal experts.
- The survey also asked how companies will approach the return to work, whenever that may be. The four most popular precautions were: providing sanitizing products (89%), maintaining social distance protocols (86%), regular deep cleaning of workplaces (85%) and limiting or prohibiting gatherings in shared space (79%). Seventy-eight percent of HR leaders surveyed also said they plan to provide masks and/or gloves to all or some employees, or those who ask.
- Regarding work from home, 62% of respondents said they will allow employees to keep working remotely either permanently or until they feel comfortable returning to the office.
With the Trump Administration announcing guidelines for lifting nationwide closures, organizations are understandably beginning to think about what that might look like tactically. The Challenger, Gray & Christmas survey results agree with a recent Gartner study which found that leaders anticipate a larger role for remote work in the future.
The Trump plan outlines three distinct phases that will gradually guide states in re-opening businesses in certain industries based on recommended criteria, at the discretion of state leadership. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission recently released guidance allowing employers to conduct temperature checks and ask employees about potential COVID-19 symptoms, some of the precautions recommended for employers in Trump's plan.
In preparation for the return to work, employers must be cautious about maintaining safe working conditions, experts say. The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has urged workers to report unsafe or unhealthy conditions and any perceived retaliation for doing so.
Returning to offices and worksites will allow companies to curb the financial losses that have been mounting since the pandemic became serious in the United States. Already, layoffs are common, some small and medium-sized businesses shut down and many have enacted hiring freezes. That said, economists and other experts anticipate a recovery to go slowly, because business capacity and consumer spending will only grow gradually.