Challenger Covid-19 Survey: 62% of Companies Will Keep Covid Plans in Place Until Experts Declare It Is Safe; 39% Will Aid in Contact Tracing Efforts

As the Trump Administration releases guidelines for reopening the economy, Human Resources executives nationwide are contemplating when and how they will reopen work sites. The majority will keep their COVID plans, which include working from home and closing non-essential businesses, in place until experts agree it is safe, while 24% plan for the crisis to keep businesses closed for 1 to 3 months, according to a new survey from global outplacement and executive coaching firm Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Another 7% of businesses are planning to keep plans in place for 3 to 6 months, and 4% plan to on the crisis lasting through the end of the year. Only 2% believe they can remove precautions in a matter of weeks.

The survey was conducted online among over 300 human resources executives from companies nationwide of various sizes and industries between April 12 and April 16.

When asked what would trigger the reopening of their businesses, 47% stated they would follow the lead of each location’s state governors. Nearly 14% said they would heed the advice of a combination of local, state, and federal leaders, as well as leading scientific experts and internal research. Another 13% stated they would act in accordance with the federal government’s guidelines while another nearly 13% will listen to leading scientific experts. Five percent responded “Other” which includes responses about adopting a phased approach to reopening.

“Companies across the country are eager to return to business as usual. However, the new normal will look quite different from how business was done a mere two months ago. HR executives are closely following government mandates and are planning protocols to keep workers, customers, and their loved ones safe,” said Andrew Challenger, Senior VP of Challenger, Gray & Christmas, Inc.

Indeed, 93% will take precautions once their workers return to work, while 7% are unsure at this time how they will proceed. Zero respondents said they would take no precautions once workers returned.

“Employers are grappling with how to best equip their teams once they come back to work sites. Many will follow social distancing guidelines, limit gatherings and supply PPE to their workers,” said Challenger.

Companies are also putting plans in place in case an employee is diagnosed with COVID-19. Nearly 77% reported they would require anyone that person may have exposed to go on a two-week quarantine. 71% said they would deep clean the work site, while 13% said they would shut down and quarantine the entire work site. Nearly 40% reported they would revert to crisis protocols, implementing work-from-home procedures, and 39% said they would alert authorities to aid in contact tracing.

“It is imperative that businesses nationwide think critically about reopening plans before issuing any mandates to return to work. No doubt the virus will still be circulating well into this year. Testing will give many businesses more data to inform these plans. In fact, two respondents were discussing plans to test workers regularly,” said Challenger.

For businesses that can allow their workers to work from home, 28% are making those accommodations permanent for some of their workforce, while 6% said they would make these accommodations permanent for all of their workers. 27.5% reported they would allow their workers to work from home until they reported they felt safe to come back to the office.

Another 8% of companies said they would require workers to come back to the office once it was determined that the crisis had passed.

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