Will NJ workers be ordered back to the office this fall?
As we head into the fall season, will your boss insist you come back to the office instead of working from home?
According to Carl Van Horn, the director of the John J. Heldrich Center for Workforce Development at Rutgers University, this will depend on what kind of job you have and what sector you work in.
“For jobs that are in very high demand and that can be done remotely employers are likely to be flexible, but if they think they can find another worker who will come into the office then they’re going to insist they come in,” he said.
“Clearly people that are in service-oriented businesses, customer-facing jobs where you more or less have to be there, or they want them to be there, they’re going to try to get them back into the office.”
Old habits die hard
Van Horn noted “old habits die hard and so even though we’ve had 2 and a half years of this pandemic experience, gradually we’ve been moving back to in-person work and most employers prefer that.”
He said when it comes to a lot of tech sector jobs that are done by the worker in front of a computer screen and “if he or she says look I moved 50 miles away but I’d like to stay with you, a lot of times the employer will just give them the opportunity to do that.”
He pointed out the New Jersey economy remains strong with more jobs than applicants to fill those jobs and employees are going to take advantage of that.
“If they’re not paid what they think they should be paid or if the worker finds it’s inconvenient because the employer is saying hey, you have to be here five days a week, they’re going to look for greener pastures.”
However, he said if we see a job creation slowdown by the beginning of next year that situation may change.
Why does your boss want you back in the office?
He said the reason is supervision.
"If you’re in a tech sector, which is basically working on a screen and the job is in high demand, they’re going to give workers flexibility to work at home if they want to," he added.
What if there’s another big COVID spike?
Van Horn said even if the COVID numbers start increasing significantly it’s highly unlikely we’ll see a return to total remote work because most people have the mindset that the pandemic is over.
“I think most people, whether they’re vaccinated or not, they feel that their risks are tolerable being in public and at the workplace,” he said.