In 2017, approximately 5% of workers in the US worked from home. This was an increase from previous years, as more companies were opening up to the idea of a remote or semi-remote labor force. Now in 2020, due to the global COVID pandemic, we have witnessed a historic switch to working remotely. According to Stanford researched published in July 2020, 42% of the U.S. labor force is now working from home full-time, while only 26%, mostly essential service workers, are working on site.[1]

This transition to working from home has been vital to help curb the spread of COVID-19. If we had been unable to work remotely, the negative impact to the economy would have forced workers to return to offices, and effectively made social distancing efforts near impossible. The decision on when and how to return to the office will vary from company to company, and in many cases by business function. The negative stigma associated with remote working has largely disappeared and many of us have learned to adapt and even thrive in remote environments. But not everyone has the ability or desire to continue to work remotely, and many other functions simply can’t be done off-site. So as companies look to reopen offices, they must partner with organizations that provide 
comprehensive testing programs and ensure employees return to the safest workplace possible.

Here at Concentric we have worked with our clients, in partnership with testing providers, to develop and source custom testing protocols to fit each company’s needs. These protocols center around:
1.       Testing regularity and cadence
2.       On-site and remote testing capabilities
3.       PCR virology tests
4.       Serology/antibody tests

If your company is working on a return to work plan, a strong testing protocol should be at the forefront of your strategy. This includes working with established testing providers to create customized plans that allow employees to return to the workplace in the safest and most efficient manner possible.

For a best in class return-to-work strategy, a competitive sourcing event should be run hand-in-hand with development of this testing protocol. From a high level, the process should operate like this:

1.       Identify site list, essential employees, and a wave plan

Have an understanding of what workers need to be onsite, and at what locations. If you have offices in multiple states, you might need to partner with multiple testing providers. Knowing who is returning to work at what locations is essential for developing a strategy. You might also consider a phased approach, where employees return to work in waves based off need.

2.       Establish best-practice testing methodology and cadence
3.       Competitively source established testing providers

Steps and 2 and 3 can and should be run concurrently. Companies need to create a partnership with their selected testing provider to ensure they are adhering to best practices while tailoring a program to meet their requirements. This may include PCR nasal swab tests, serology (antibody) venipuncture tests, temperature checks upon entry, and establishing on-site vs. off-site requirements and capabilities. Working with established testing providers to help develop testing methodology will help to ensure you are following CDC guidelines and minimizing risk to employees to the furthest extent possible.

By including the testing providers in the methodology development, it shows good faith heading into the sourcing event. As testing providers competitively bid their services, they understand your needs and desires and can develop a plan to best meet them.

4.       Negotiate pricing and sign service agreements

Cost of services is always important, but don’t forget to consider the human aspect here. Negotiations should not focus solely on the lowest price point. Instead, the focus should be on getting the most value with the best possible terms while keeping employee safety as the primary objective. This should include set turnaround times for testing results. The sooner you know if someone is positive, the sooner you can take action. Understand what you’re paying for, and make sure every cent you spend is going as far as it can to minimize the risk to your work force.

If you would like to work with Concentric to help with development of your return to work strategy, please do not hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help.


Bloom, N. (2020, June 29). Stanford research provides a snapshot of a new working-from-home economy. Retrieved from Stanford News:

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Samuel Cagle

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