Remote Work: Here to Stay?
When the pandemic hit in 2020, employers quickly pivoted to keep their businesses running. For many, that meant shifting to a remote work environment.
A new analysis of U.S. Census data released by the Connecticut Data Collaborative reveals how much that shift created a lasting impact on the way people work.
In 2019, 5.6% of employees in Connecticut worked from home. That’s about one in 18 workers.
As offices closed and businesses adopted new workflows during the pandemic, that number spiked 250% in 2021 to 19.5%, or about one in five.
“You might expect that during the height of the pandemic,” said CBIA HR Counsel Diane Mokriski. “But not necessarily two years later.”
“I think it is really an important indicator of how just Connecticut’s workforce as a whole is changing how employers view business and how workers are doing their work.”
Nationally, remote workers rose from 5.7% to 17.9% from 2019 to 2021.
Only four states, Washington (24.2%), Maryland (24%), Colorado (23.7%), and Massachusetts (23.7%) had higher percentages of people working from home than Connecticut.
The September Marcum-Hofstra CEO Survey found 76% of companies provide employees the option of working remotely at least part of the week and 92% will continue offering remote options.
With the increase in remote workers, the data also shows that fewer people are commuting to work.
The number of Connecticut employees who took a car, truck, or van to work fell from 85.9% in 2019 to 74% in 2021.
Employers are gradually bringing employees back, which may lower the percentage of remote workers, but it appears the trend of remote or hybrid work is here to stay.
“This is something that employers are seeing as a long-term if not permanent solution,” Mokriski said.
CBIA and Marcum’s 2022 Survey of Connecticut Businesses showed that 85% of Connecticut employers struggle to find and retain workers.
With Connecticut dealing with that significant labor shortage, Mokriski said the data is a signal that employers need to shift how they’re doing business if they want to attract and retain talent.
“Employees really are expecting flexible work arrangements,” she said. “And flexible can mean lots of different things, but remote work is definitely one of them.”
While not every profession is conducive to remote work, like many manufacturing jobs, employers are finding other ways of being flexible.
During CBIA’s recent Connecticut Workforce Summit, manufacturing leaders discussed the importance of adapting to attract and retain employees.
That includes things shifting schedules for employees with childcare needs to help create a healthy work-life balance.
Farmington-based Burke Aerospace implemented a Friday-Sunday shift to accommodate employees with childcare needs or want to be with their families more during the week.
“We need to adapt to the new needs and wants of the world,” said Burke president Brittany Isherwood.
“You’re at work more than you see your family. And if you’re not happy doing that, your life is miserable.”
“In Connecticut as a whole, no matter what type of job we’re talking about, employers are realizing that if they’re going to retain the talent that they want, they’re going to have to think outside the box in how they accomplish that,” said Mokriski.
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