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Will a remote workforce become the ‘new normal’ in a post-pandemic world?

by Bill Donahue

Last March, when the COVID-19 pandemic upended the American way of life,  South Jersey businesses had to cope with a raft of unexpected changes— namely, barren parking lots, once-bustling business parks reduced to ghost towns, offices as quiet as a tomb.

Some business owners have reaped the benefits of a remote workforce, including unexpected productivity gains. These advantages may help to explain a recent forecast from Global Workplace Analytics, a research  and consulting firm that helps employers  prepare for the future of work: As much as 30% of the workforce is expected to be working remotely multiple days per week by the end of 2021.

At the same time, signs of life—i.e., employees eager for a sense of normalcy—have begun to return to businesses   of every stripe. The big question: Will in-office employee attendance  return to pre-pandemic levels, or will Garden State businesses settle into a “new normal”? Two South Jersey business professionals weigh in.  

Jessica L. McCosker,  human resources manager, Workplace HCM
 “Internally, we offered employees options to work from home when they didn’t need to be in the office. Employees took to the hybrid model and ran with it. Giving employees the chance to work from home or another location has not affected us in any negative way, so I think we’ll stay with the hybrid model. What the ‘new normal’ looks like, we won’t know that for a little while. You never know what’s going to happen tomorrow.”

Angela Morrison, owner, Angie’s At Your Service Virtual Assistance
“I have some clients in the janitorial and medical field, and their businesses have been necessary from the beginning. I have another client who is a coffee manufacturer, and with those kinds of companies, there’s no way that everyone can do their work remotely. I haven’t heard much about businesses wanting their employees to work from home 100% of the time, but I can attest to the fact that working from home can be more productive. When we’re working with less distractions, and not having those 20- to 30-minute conversations or sitting through long meetings, we get our work done quicker. Still, it’s not for everyone, which is why I don’t think we’ll see the world change to 100% work from home.”

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Published (and copyrighted) in South Jersey Biz, Volume 11, Issue 4 (April 2021).

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