Will employees in the Triangle return to the office when COVID-19 pandemic ends? Some may not

Durham County News

DURHAM, NC (WNCN)– With COVID-19 cases down and more people getting vaccinated, some companies in the Triangle are deciding whether to bring employees back to the office.

At Inhabit Real Estate in downtown Durham, 29 of their employees have been working from home since the pandemic started.

While their office space may sit empty, their employees are still getting the job done at home.

“We actually show people the homes virtually and we’ve had quite a few people offer to buy a home sight unseen,” said Charles Lee, CEO of Inhabit Real Estate.

Lee said his firm has adapted well to the work-from-home mode and he is not sure they’ll ever go back to a full office of employees.

“Funny enough, we don’t have any plans to mandate the employees come back into the office,” Lee said. “Some people are genuinely happy with going to their home office and not having to hop in the car and beat the traffic on I-40 to get here.”

But for employees who do want to come back, Lee said he will give them that option as soon as Governor Roy Cooper lifts social distancing restrictions, which is expected to happen in June.

Lee said employees who do return will be spaced apart in the office, masks will be required, and he won’t require them to get a vaccine before they come back.

“We feel like that’s a personal choice for those people to make,” Lee said.

Meanwhile, larger corporations like Bank of America are planning to allow their employees to come back after Labor Day.

Over at the City of Durham, more than 500 employees are still working remotely.

City officials said they have a team working on a return-to-work strategy, that will likely coincide with City Council’s goal of returning to in-person meetings in late summer or early fall.

Officials also said employee vaccination status will not be a determining factor in return-work decisions.

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