Will telework return to pre-pandemic levels once offices in the D.C. area are able to return to full capacity?
Likely not, and some employers expect working from home to continue expanding, even after pandemic restrictions are over.
That’s according to a regional survey of employers, made public Wednesday, which offered clues as to how much teleworking there might be and other changes coming to the workplace spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Commuter Connections, a regional network of transportation groups devoted to improving the D.C.-area commute, received completed surveys from 180 area employers, most of them located in Virginia and Maryland, with a smaller number in the District.
The employers represent federal, state and local government offices and private employers in professions including medicine, business support, education, real estate/property management, technology, hospitality, legal/professional and banking/finance.
The survey found that telework mushroomed during the pandemic, with the average share of employees growing from 36% to 82% at sites that had a telework policy already in place at the start of pandemic-related restrictions.
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Of those employers surveyed, 57% expect higher levels of telework after the pandemic, compared to the amount of telework when the pandemic began.
“A solid 20% said we’re going to continuing doing what we’re doing right now, as part of our operations, even after the pandemic is over,” said Commuter Connections Director Nicholas Ramfos.
Another 37% said they expect to continue telework with more employees involved compared to the period before the pandemic caused widespread restrictions.
“If you’re a large employer in this region, or even a mid-size employer, even some of the smaller employers … you’re going to have some type of (telework) policy in place if you’re doing business in this metropolitan region,” Ramfos said.
In another sign of the pandemic’s influence, the survey found that 7 out of 10 worksites have considered, in the future, new work hours or commute strategies to reduce future virus outbreaks.
Around 62% cite the potential for flexible/staggered work hours, and 28% consider the possibility of compressed work schedules.