There was a time when getting to work from home was a unique privilege companies were often quick to deny. But these days, remote work has become the norm. Thanks to the pandemic, a lot of companies are letting their employees work from home because gathering teams inside office buildings just isn't the safest bet. And while coronavirus vaccines could help fuel a return to the office, rollouts have been slow, supply is still very limited, and some workers may not be on board with the idea of getting a jab.
But what if it became easier and more convenient to get a COVID-19 test? Could that help bring workers back to the office sooner? One company thinks it might and is already in the process of rolling out testing to its workers.
Easy testing from the comfort of home
Getting a coronavirus test isn't as simple as one might imagine, despite the fact that we're a full year into the pandemic and you'd think things would have improved in that regard by now. But effective, convenient testing could help workers return to an office environment, and Citigroup (NYSE: C) is already making an effort in this regard. The company has begun offering rapid at-home coronavirus tests to some employees -- namely, those still reporting to an office because their roles cannot be performed remotely.
The at-home coronavirus kit Citigroup is providing includes a rapid antigen test that gives results within 20 minutes. As of a couple of weeks ago, it was still awaiting emergency use authorization from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.
Once Citigroup sees how successful this pilot at-home testing program is, it plans to make it widely available to its large network of employees. And chances are, a lot of companies will seek to follow in its footsteps.
While many companies are making plans to make remote work a permanent fixture, others are more than ready to return to in-person work. It's these employers that may be willing to invest in at-home testing kits for their staff.
While the coronavirus vaccines currently on the market are said to do a great job of helping recipients avoid severe illness from COVID-19, it's unclear as to whether vaccinated individuals can easily pass the virus on to others. In addition, several virus variants are making the rounds, which may prove to test the limits of the vaccines. As such, vaccines alone may not be enough to get workers back under the same roof. Rather, a combination of vaccines and easy, effective, reliable testing may be needed to do the trick.
The Millionacres bottom line
If more companies are able to roll out a similar testing program to what Citigroup is doing, it could be very good news for real estate investors with office REITs (real estate investment trusts) in their portfolios. A number of REITs with heavy office concentrations have taken a hit in the course of the pandemic, and they need companies to start renewing leases and bringing workers back into buildings. At-home testing could be the ticket to that much-wanted scenario.