Survey Shows Remote Work Still Widespread In Massachusetts

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BOSTON (State House News Service) — Hybrid work schedules continue to prove popular among employers in Massachusetts, but inconsistent expectations of how much in-person time those entail could make it complicated for policymakers as they navigate the new reality, the head of a regional business group said.

The Massachusetts Business Roundtable, a group of business leaders that collectively employ more than 250,000 Bay Staters, surveyed its members last week and found another data point indicating that working from home remains in use for workers with access to that option.

JD Chesloff, president of the group, told lawmakers that 15 percent of members surveyed are currently working in person, while 77 percent are using either a hybrid or fully remote work schedule. That's nearly an inverse of the pre-pandemic trend, Chesloff said, in which 90 percent of MBR's members worked in-person full-time.

While summarizing those results before a commission studying economic pressure points on the early education and care industry, Chesloff said businesses diverge on the division of remote and in-person work implied by the term "hybrid." Some see a hybrid schedule as only one or two days at home, he said, while others define hybrid as mostly remote with only an occasional in-person meeting.

"If you start to think about how do we design a child care system that responds to a hybrid work model and hybrid is really undefined, it's a really difficult task," Chesloff said. "That is in the process of working itself through and settling out. My guess is this will begin to get a little more clarity as we head into next year, but right now with omicron, it's still very much up in the air."

While he and Tom Weber of the Massachusetts Business Coalition for Early Childhood Education stressed that access to child care remains an obstacle for workers, Chesloff said the largest factor driving sustained interest in work from home among his members is simple preference. MBR members "overwhelmingly" cited their preference for remote work when discussing their willingness to return to the office, Chesloff said.

"That's why I think this hybrid work model has legs," he said. "Employees want it, and employers need to respond to that."

Written by Chris Lisinski, State House News Service

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