When the COVID emergency started, half of New Jersey workers began working from home. A new survey finds many of them don’t think they will ever go back to the office full-time again.

According to Dan Cassino, the executive director of the Fairleigh Dickinson University poll, when the pandemic started the assumption was we would stay home for a couple of weeks to “bend the curve” and then everything would go back to normal. But a few weeks turned into almost 16 months.

He said right now, as the pandemic is winding down, only 27% of workers have returned to their place of business full time, 28% are splitting their time between the workplace and working from home, and 35% are still working from home, and they like that.

“We thought there was going to be a snap-back, end of the pandemic, everything was going to go back to normal,” he said. “But at least in terms of work, we are never going to go back to normal, and most people in New Jersey don’t even want to.”

He said the poll finds a quarter of New Jersey voters (26%) insist they will never go back to the office full time.

He also noted a significant number of workers stopped taking mass transit and used a private vehicle to get to work when the pandemic started, and some of them are expected to continue to drive to work when they do go into the office.

The poll finds a significant difference in work preference between Democrats and Republicans.

“About half of Republicans, 47%, say they want to go into work full time. Only 20% of Democrats say that,” said Cassino.

The survey finds 67% of Democrats are still working from home at least some of the time, compared to 49% of Republicans.

He pointed out “part of that is because of differences in demographics. Democrats are more likely to be women, younger and more likely to be college educated, and all of those characteristics lead people to like remote work more.”

“The workers with a college education want to stay home or have the sort of flexible work experience,” he added. “Less educated workers, also older workers and Republicans, they just want to go back to the office.”

The poll also finds 55% of men think they will be back at the workplace by the end of the year, compared to 48% of women.

He noted if more New Jersey workers remain in New Jersey it will mean fewer taxes are collected in New York and Pennsylvania, and a possible tax surplus in the Garden State.

The FDU survey was conducted between June 9 and June 16 using a certified list of registered voters in New Jersey.

Voters were randomly chosen from the list, and contacted in one of two ways. Three-quarters of the respondents (608) received an invitation through SMS (text) to fill out the survey online, via a provided link. The other quarter of respondents (193) were contacted via telephone, using the same registered voter list.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com

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