Fourth Chamber survey reveals businesses’ concerns as shelter-in-place expires

Employee fear, lack of coronavirus testing top company leaders' worries

Thursday, April 30, 2020 11:30 am

by Molly Fleming

The Greater Oklahoma City Chamber’s fourth point-in-time survey assessed company leaders’ plans, as well as their concerns on returning to work. Oklahoma City’s shelter-in-place order expires Thursday.

As the shelter-in-place order is lifted and the City enters the first phase of re-entry 67% of business proprietors said employee fear is the biggest barrier they’ll have to overcome as they move back to normal operation. The second most-pressing concern is a lack of coronavirus testing and screening, followed by a lack of hand sanitizer and a concern for legal liability.

 “We’ve heard similar concerns from many of our members as we’ve reached out to them during this crisis,” said Roy Williams, CEO and president of the Greater Oklahoma City Chamber. “We’ve shared with our members the guidance from the Oklahoma City-County Health Department and the U.S Occupational Safety and Health Administration so they can have all the information as they decide what happens next for their business. We know our employers care about their staff and will make the right decision for their company and their employees.”

The survey was open from noon on Tuesday, April 28 through noon on Wednesday, April 29, with approximately 300 businesses responding. Of the respondents, 73% were considered essential businesses by the state of Oklahoma.

Thirty-seven percent of businesses plan to bring their employees back in stages, though another 20% of companies will have their staff return all at once. Nearly 60% of businesses plan to keep some employees in their current tele-work situation.

Respondents were asked about their timeline for their operations. Within one week, 45% of businesses will return a partial amount of their workforce, while 27% of respondents said it would take one month for the full workforce to return. It will also take a month for the participating companies to host clients or customers and hold meetings in person. Respondents were unsure when they’d start attending local meetings or events, though 23% of survey participants said they expected to be at local meetings or events in one month. As to when domestic or international travel would resume for their businesses, a majority of respondents were unsure, while 23% of businesses estimated it would be three months or longer.

At their work site, 63% of companies will have policies in place to optimize social distancing, according to the survey results, and 47% of businesses will have limited access to third parties, with no timeline as to when that restriction will end.  

Williams said he knows business leaders have many tough choices to make with the shelter-in-place order ending, but he encouraged them to be remain cautious when evaluating their choices.

“We want our workforce to remain strong and healthy, so we can all work together to move the city through this crisis and to the light on the other side,” he said. Businesses seeking additional information about re-opening or other COVID-19 support should visit the Chamber’s website at