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Majority of DC-area employees unlikely to return to the office before summer 2021, survey says

Of employers who had long-term reopening plans, on average, those employers expect to have 72% of their employees return to the office by summer 2021.

WASHINGTON — Were you banking on going back to the office because you're tired of working from home? Unfortunately, it could be next summer before the bulk of the D.C. region’s workers return to their offices, according to a recent survey by the Greater Washington Partnership.

More than six months after the coronavirus pandemic hit our area – forcing thousands to work from home – many employers remain uncertain when and how they will begin allowing employees back in the office, based on the study.

The study, which surveyed more than 400+ employers across D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, shows that most companies are struggling with how to safely integrate workers back in the office while the U.S. remains in the midst of the pandemic, despite states implementing their reopening plans.

RELATED: Virginia adopts first-in-the-nation pandemic workplace safety rules

While some companies planned to begin bringing workers back after Labor Day this year, they have changed their plans in response to new cases along with employee concerns of contracting the virus while at work, according to the study.

Credit: Greater Washington Partnership
Although the general theme in the comments provided by employers was continual “monitoring and re-evaluating,”, those who were able to provide a long-term estimate on the return of their employees, believe a majority of their workforce will be back by spring 2021.

RELATED: 'I'm not ready to die' | Some Virginia teachers say they are not ready for a return to school amid pandemic

Based on the employer surveys, the key findings from the report include:  

  • Employers are adopting a phased approach to reopening, but many remain uncertain. 
    • This fall, about 1/3 of the region’s workforce is projected to physically return to worksites. 
  • Of employers who had long-term reopening plans, on average, those employers expect to have 72% of their employees return to the office by summer 2021. 
    • However, a third of responding employers are still unsure of their summer 2021 plans. 
  • Most employers want to test their employees for COVID-19 but will not if the test costs more than $50. 
  • Nearly 50% of employers indicated a high level of concern about public transit safety and a low level of confidence that public agencies can control crowding and enforce the wearing of masks.

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