With most businesses operating remotely for well over a year, more than two-thirds of employers in the state say they have plans to continue the practice after the COVID-19 pandemic is over, or are at least considering a significant shift in that direction coming out of it.
That’s according to a joint report conducted in April by the Bridgewater-based office goods firm Brother International and Focus NJ – a research nonprofit that was started in February 2020 by the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.
The poll – titled “Back to Work in a Post-Pandemic World” – found that 65% of businesses will allow some form of remote work following the pandemic, or are currently considering such a move.
The report relied on 711 respondents to an online survey between April 1 and 26 and had a margin of error of plus or minus 3.7 percentage points.
Forty-five percent of respondents said some portion of their workforce is still telecommuting, while 55% said that their entire staff was back in the office, according to the report.
“The pandemic has accelerated the evolution of the workplace by forcing businesses to confront and embrace our increasingly mobile, decentralized world,” said Dan Waldinger, who heads B2B marketing at Brother International.
According to the poll, 32% of businesses said they plan to spend at least $20,000 on new technology for a post-COVID workplace, followed by 26% who said they would spend between $1,001 and $5,000, and then 22% who said they would spend between $5,01 and $10,000.
“Businesses are realizing they must embrace tools needed to enhance collaboration, and subsequently, productivity, amid the so-called ‘hybrid workforce,’ with some employees working remotely, and some returning to the office,” Waldinger continued.
As part of the state’s latest reopenings, the indoor mask mandate and 6-foot social distancing rule will be lifted on May 28, with exceptions for child care centers, hospitals and public transit. Then on June 4, the indoor gathering limit will be lifted. The 250-person indoor gathering limit for political events, weddings, funerals, memorial services, performances, and catered and commercial events will be lifted. And the 30% capacity for large indoor venues will be scrapped.
It’s not clear whether face coverings will be required for private indoor workplaces.
Sen. Declan O’Scanlon, R-13th District, said in a May 25 statement that the language of the governor’s executive order means that “[o]ffice workers and anyone who works in an indoor setting that’s not open to the public will have to continue wearing masks” regardless of vaccination status.
“Where’s the science that says it’s safe for a vaccinated person to work unmasked in a supermarket where they might interact with hundreds of people, but it’s unsafe for them to work without a mask around a handful of people in a private office?” he continued.
Murphy’s office did not return requests for comment on the senator’s statement.