SPRINGFIELD — In August and September, the Pioneer Valley Planning Commission (PVPC) conducted a survey of businesses in the region to learn more about remote-work policies. The survey sought to understand trends in current remote-work trends in the region as well as how this has changed due to the COVID-19 pandemic and what employers’ expectations are for the future of these policies in the next year.
Outreach for the survey was primarily focused on businesses in Hampden and Hampshire counties, but also included Franklin and Berkshire counties. The survey was conducted online. Requests for participation were sent to businesses through local and regional chambers of commerce, municipal leaders, the Western Massachusetts Economic Development Council, MassLive, community-development corporations, and other economic-development committees and organizations throughout the region.
Businesses were asked to have the owner, human resources official, or another manager knowledgeable about remote-work policies fill out the survey. The survey resulted in responses from a total of 98 businesses. Among the key findings:
• Nearly three-quarters of respondents allowed remote work at least once per week.
• Services that require physical labor were less likely to allow remote work. Professional and technical services were more likely to go remote.
• One-quarter of firms did not have a remote-work policy before COVID but have since instituted one.
• Firms with less revenue were less likely to institute a different COVID policy or allow remote work at all, while large firms had more varied policy changes.
• Among firms that allowed remote work, larger firms tended to require at least one day a week at the office.
• Half of firms allowed employees to decide which days to come to work.
• Firms with more employees were more likely to require workers to work the same number of hours.
• Most respondents believed their firm’s remote-work policy would stay the same next year.
• Workers in small (fewer than 15 employees) and very large (more than 1,000 employees) firms were more uncertain about their company’s policy over the next 12 months.