Biz leaders survey: Most companies plan gradual return to office

BY Monday, May 17, 2021 04:57pm

Michigan business leaders expect a strong third and fourth quarter this year as vaccinations and federal stimulus funds are deployed, while most companies expect a gradual return to in-person work, according to a survey by a statewide business roundtable.

Business Leaders for Michigan today released quarterly economic survey results showing nearly 80 percent of respondents are “planning for a gradual return” to in-person work even though remote working will no longer be required starting May 24 based on Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s “MI Vacc to Normal” plan, Business Leaders for Michigan President and CEO Jeff Donofrio said in a statement.

Fifty-two Business Leaders for Michigan members responded to the survey.

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“Employers continue to be focused on making sure workplaces are safe and that employees have more flexibility in how and where they work, even after in-person office work returns,” he said. “They also know that expanded childcare options and in-person instruction at K-12 schools is necessary for many employees to return to the physical workspace.”

Additionally, 93 percent of survey respondents plan to offer hybrid work models to some staff, while nearly one-third of respondents said half or more of their employees will work in a hybrid format. More than two-thirds of respondents expect their office real estate footprint to remain the same or increase, while 27 percent plan to decrease the size of the workplace.

Business Leaders for Michigan conducted the internal member survey in late April and early this month. The survey also comes as state officials are working to craft permanent COVID-19 workplace safety rules. While it’s unclear how the latest masking requirements might affect long-term workplace safety plans, the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MIOSHA) say it plans to release updated guidance for employers.

“MIOSHA will soon post updated workplace rules reflecting the CDC’s recent guidance on face masks for fully vaccinated people,” Sean Egan, Michigan’s COVID-19 workplace safety director, said in a statement. “Until then, MIOSHA will consider compliance with the MDHHS order as good faith to comply when responding to employee complaints or conducting investigations related to COVID-19.”

The Business Leaders for Michigan survey also showed an optimistic economic outlook among the state’s major companies. More than 90 percent of respondents expect to maintain or grow employment and capital investment over the next six to 12 months, while a similar percentage expect the U.S. economy to remain strong.

“With our progress on vaccination and the influx of federal stimulus dollars into Michigan, the state’s largest employers are predicting a strong period of economic growth,” said Donofrio, who previously led the state Department of Labor and Economic Opportunity under Whitmer. “Whether that growth will be sustained depends on if our state’s policymakers invest federal stimulus funding strategically to make Michigan more competitive in the future.”

Read 4192 times Last modified on Thursday, 27 May 2021 09:43