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24 Jul. 2020 | Comments (0)

When it comes to bringing remote workers back to the office, the top two factors companies consider are government and medical/scientific guidance, according to a recent pulse survey of business continuity, crisis management, and employee health & safety professionals.

But under 5% respondents indicated that school openings rank as one of the top three considerations when deciding when to re-open. With the new school year approaching, employers would be well-advised to consider how school openings will impact their planning process to ensure employees can continue to do their jobs while also taking care of their children.

The other findings from the survey indicate that companies have resolved some issues relating to physical work environments (e.g., limiting shared spaces) and personal protection (e.g., requiring masks), but other areas are going to be the subject of more experimentation (temperature-taking, contact-tracing, and the staging of employees returning to the office).

Adapting physical work environments

  • 93% limited the use of shared spaces such as lunch and break rooms
  • 87% arranged desks/workstations to ensure employees are seated at least 6 feet apart
  • 17% installed fiberglass/dividers to separate employees and/or customers
  • 73% responded that they will continue to provide food services, but making changes such as providing “grab and go” only, not accepting cash, and removing communal equipment such as microwaves and vending machines

Other measures included prohibiting the use of conference rooms, limiting capacity in elevators/escalators, staggering access to change rooms and bathrooms, using automated apps to keep people 6 feet apart.

Personal protection measures

  • 80% are requiring the use of masks; 100% of respondents indicated providing hand sanitizer and masks
  • 57% of respondents indicated conducting temperature checks for employees and visitors
  • When not relying solely on employees to report their own temperatures taken at home, the technology being used is becoming more advanced: contactless facial recognition temperature screens, cameras with sensors, and infrared thermometers
  • 83% plan to implement “contact tracing” in some form

Remote working

  • 93% said they will return employees to work in stages, but the process will be dynamic and require reassessment along the way
  • 60% indicated employees will be encouraged to continue to work from home even as offices/facilities open
  • Only 3% said employees will be encouraged to return to offices/facilities when they are open

These previously unpublished findings conducted among 30 executives throughout June are in addition to a survey by our Human Capital Center of more than 150 executives in April. Please click here to see an infographic that provides more information on remote working, productivity, staff reductions, and when organizations expect to return to pre-COVID-19 levels.


  • About the Author:Paul Washington

    Paul Washington

    Paul Washington joined The Conference Board in June 2019 as Executive Director of the ESG Center, a non-profit think tank that focuses on corporate governance, sustainability, and corporate citizenshi…

    Full Bio | More from Paul Washington


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