Four days a week, Adam Hornbuckle navigates a three-hour round-trip commute to his office in Manhattan. Come Friday, Hornbuckle, a political and public affairs consultant, works from his Glen Cove apartment.

That’s also the day that he can leave his home at 5 p.m. to ski upstate on Gore Mountain in the winter and get a jump on an East Hampton weekend in the summer. 

Hornbuckle values his hybrid schedule, including the days at his company — for its corporate culture, camaraderie and teamwork. “You can definitely create a better work product when face to face with colleagues,” Hornbuckle said.

A lasting vestige of the pandemic shutdowns, remote and hybrid workweeks are more than a fleeting development on Long Island and beyond. Rather, they have coalesced into a nationwide workplace trend, a must-have for job hunters and a way for businesses to cut overhead costs by shrinking office footprints.  

As a result, many Long Islanders’  five-day-a-week commutes have given way to working from home — anywhere from one to four days a week, alternate weeks or all the time.

And courtesy of laptops, additional monitors, Zooms, Slack and other forms of communication, bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms are doing double duty as offices-away-from-the-office.

“COVID introduced a whole new way of working locally,” said Melissa Cosenzo, market manager for staffing and management consulting firm Robert Half in Melville. While 100% remote models are still not as common on Long Island as they may be in the city, “our clients are realizing they need to offer flexibility or hybrid schedules in order to attract talent.”  It's a way for companies to stay competitive, relevant and cost-effective, Cosenzo said.

According to Robert Half’s online surveys last fall, nearly 87% of workers considering a job change were interested in hybrid or fully remote positions, while 32% who work onsite at least once a week were willing to take a pay cut “to do their job remotely all the time.” 

Although many Long Islanders extol the benefits of a hybrid workweek, including time saved on days they don’t have to commute and the flexibility to pick up kids after school or take lunch at the beach, they said work-from-home days aren’t a total picnic. They cited such downsides as prolonged sedentariness, the pull of the refrigerator, social isolation, household distractions and loss of impromptu, in-person collaborations

Remote and hybrid employees are also prone to "the fear of missing out” on key assignments and “equal career advancement opportunities,” said Raghida Abdallah Yassine, assistant professor of management at Adelphi University’s Robert B. Willumstad School of Business.  And because some colleagues may lag in responding to their texts and emails, “instant communication is not instant,” she said. "Getting a reply isn't as quick and easy as walking by their office.”

Onsite has other advantages, with 65% of Robert Half’s survey respondents citing “more effective relationships with colleagues they’ve met face-to-face” than with those they haven’t.  More workers (49%) were also more comfortable collaborating in person than virtually (31%).

Many hybrid employees are required to be onsite a certain number of days each week. Others traipse into the office only for meetings or when they want to satisfy a personal need for human interaction. Zooms and Microsoft Teams meetings are no substitutes, they said.

Their company position, as well as the number of days they work onsite, often determines whether these workers have their own designated workspace. If that’s not the case, as part of a corporate practice known as hoteling, they can reserve a desk on an as-needed basis through an app or online portal; with a call to a corporate number; or simply find an empty desk to park themselves for the day.

“As a team, we all try to come in on Thursdays, and we can choose any desks we like,” said Bayshore resident Diandra Binney, who serves as the U.S. head of communications for New Zealand-based Xero, a small business accounting platform with a Manhattan office. Her own go-to spot is a desk by a “window for the light.”

Binney, who works once a week at Xero and the rest of the days in her bedroom’s alcove-turned-home office, has mixed feelings about remote labor. “There are missed opportunities for collaborations, and it gets lonely,” she said. “I’m an extrovert and miss the human connection.”  

But thanks to her hybrid schedule and because her job involves connecting with  colleagues in Australia, which is 15 hours ahead of New York, Binney volunteers on Mondays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. at a Smithtown dog shelter; takes her golden retriever for a half-hour midday walk to the ferries every day; and, depending on her workload, occasionally attends an hour-long kickboxing class in Bay Shore.

Islip resident Mecca Baker, who serves as regional vice president of Audit Americas for Commerzbank, works three days a week in her firm’s Manhattan location. While she sees her in-office days as opportunities to get to know colleagues in face-to-face conversations, which “can help build trust,” she said her remote days allow her to be more productive and focused on work, including “working longer hours when needed.”

Without her hour-and-45-minute commute, which gets her into the office between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., Baker can begin working as early as 7 a.m. to participate in virtual international meetings.

Working remotely, she can also spend more time with her husband and their twin 14-year-old daughters, as well as be available for homework help. (On other days, her husband, who returns home from his job by 6 p.m., can help them.)  

But on home days, Baker said, she needs to be “intentional about fitness,” tracking her steps and exercising after work. She also takes a five-minute coffee break in her backyard and, weather permitting, eats lunch at the Islip beach.

Long Beach resident Colleen O’Connor, a senior account executive at Crenshaw Communications in Manhattan, combats the otherwise deskbound workdays at home by jumping on her Peloton bike for 30 minutes in the morning to keep her “adrenalin running” or after work “to decompress. ”

Generally, O’Connor commutes once or twice a week to Crenshaw, including on Thursdays, a day “to kick off the weekend” and get together with friends after work. “I’m a naturally social person and it gets lonely to sit on Zoom calls all day. I love coming into the office and having face-to-face conversations.”

Nevertheless, working from home has its rewards: she can drive a cousin’s child to school twice a week and still log in to work at 9 a.m.

In his four-bedroom Dix Hills home, Robert Fried has claimed a bedroom as his home office. But with three kids, 7, 4 and 7 months, Fried, who works remotely about three days a week, faces assorted distractions, from dealing with the noise level to occasionally watching the baby while his wife picks up their middle child from nursery school.

“I try to stay focused, but it can be tough,” said Fried, senior vice president and global head of forensics and investigations for Sandline Global LLC, a Falls Church, Virginia-based company with an office in the city.

On remote days, he works from 8:15 a.m. to about 7:30 p.m. On in-office days, his three-hour round-trip commute has him leaving the house as early as 6:45 a.m. and returning as late as 9 p.m.

At home, Fried takes a break walking in his neighborhood or observing his chickens, which came with his house, ambling about in his backyard.

“Working from home gives me a break from the hyper-activity of the city,” Fried said.

David Persaud worked remotely for about two months — from March to June 2020. It wasn’t for him. He experienced erratic WiFi, heard dogs barking in the background and gained about 15 pounds “running back and forth to the refrigerator.” (He has since lost the weight.)

“I had my family [at home] but I felt isolated not having the camaraderie and the conversations with my coworkers,” said the South Richmond Hill, Queens resident and vice president of underwriting at Roslyn-based insurance company EmPRO, a subsidiary of Physician Reciprocal Insurers. “I couldn’t just pop my head into an office and ask a question.”

So, when his company called all workers back to the office full time, he was ready.

According to EmPRO chairman, CEO and president Bruce Shulan, several factors led to the decision to end remote work, including deteriorating customer service and communication and the loss of spontaneous face-to-face collaborations. 

To help ensure returning workers’ safety, EmPRO implemented a bunch of measures, including designating one-way directional staircases, which have since been discontinued, and limiting occupancy on smaller elevators, which continues. 

And to make employees happy to be back,  EmPRO invested $2 million-plus in building renovations including an upgraded cafeteria, break spaces with big screen TVs and a gym with locker rooms. The upgrades also help with recruiting, in an industry where hybrid schedules are more the norm. 

”The human interaction is very important to us, and benefits virtually all aspects of the company,” Shulan said, adding that the business is doing a better job with “everyone coming to work every day.”  

A hybrid schedule suits East Meadow resident Christina Principato — and her grandmother, Alfonsa Sferrazza, 89.

Once or twice a week, Principato works at an app-reserved desk in KPMG’s Melville office or at a client’s office on Long Island or in the city. The other days, the senior manager in KPMG’s media and telecommunications audit practice does her job at the dining room table — with Sferrazza reading, coloring or doing math problems across from her.

“She’s doing her work, and I’m doing mine,” said Principato, who gave up an Astoria apartment at the start of Covid to move in with her parents, both of whom work onsite.  Sferrazza lives part-time at their home and also with other relatives. When Principato goes to the office, her grandmother stays at an uncle’s during the day.   

“I’ve learned a lot more Italian from my grandma in three years than in my whole life, and the model has given me time with loved ones, particularly my grandma,” Principato said, adding, “She thinks she’s watching me.”

Four days a week, Adam Hornbuckle navigates a three-hour round-trip commute to his office in Manhattan. Come Friday, Hornbuckle, a political and public affairs consultant, works from his Glen Cove apartment.

That’s also the day that he can leave his home at 5 p.m. to ski upstate on Gore Mountain in the winter and get a jump on an East Hampton weekend in the summer. 

Hornbuckle values his hybrid schedule, including the days at his company — for its corporate culture, camaraderie and teamwork. “You can definitely create a better work product when face to face with colleagues,” Hornbuckle said.

Adam Hornbuckle takes the 8:27 to Penn Station from Glen...

Adam Hornbuckle takes the 8:27 to Penn Station from Glen Cove. Credit: Rick Kopstein

A lasting vestige of the pandemic shutdowns, remote and hybrid workweeks are more than a fleeting development on Long Island and beyond. Rather, they have coalesced into a nationwide workplace trend, a must-have for job hunters and a way for businesses to cut overhead costs by shrinking office footprints.  

As a result, many Long Islanders’  five-day-a-week commutes have given way to working from home — anywhere from one to four days a week, alternate weeks or all the time.

And courtesy of laptops, additional monitors, Zooms, Slack and other forms of communication, bedrooms, living rooms and dining rooms are doing double duty as offices-away-from-the-office.

“COVID introduced a whole new way of working locally,” said Melissa Cosenzo, market manager for staffing and management consulting firm Robert Half in Melville. While 100% remote models are still not as common on Long Island as they may be in the city, “our clients are realizing they need to offer flexibility or hybrid schedules in order to attract talent.”  It's a way for companies to stay competitive, relevant and cost-effective, Cosenzo said.

87% of workers considering a job change were interested in hybrid or fully remote positions 32% who work onsite at least once a week were willing to take a pay cut to work 'remotely all the time'

Source: Robert Half’s online survey respondents

According to Robert Half’s online surveys last fall, nearly 87% of workers considering a job change were interested in hybrid or fully remote positions, while 32% who work onsite at least once a week were willing to take a pay cut “to do their job remotely all the time.” 

Although many Long Islanders extol the benefits of a hybrid workweek, including time saved on days they don’t have to commute and the flexibility to pick up kids after school or take lunch at the beach, they said work-from-home days aren’t a total picnic. They cited such downsides as prolonged sedentariness, the pull of the refrigerator, social isolation, household distractions and loss of impromptu, in-person collaborations

Remote and hybrid employees are also prone to "the fear of missing out” on key assignments and “equal career advancement opportunities,” said Raghida Abdallah Yassine, assistant professor of management at Adelphi University’s Robert B. Willumstad School of Business.  And because some colleagues may lag in responding to their texts and emails, “instant communication is not instant,” she said. "Getting a reply isn't as quick and easy as walking by their office.”

65% said they had “more effective relationships with colleagues they’ve met face-to-face” 49% were more comfortable collaborating in person than virtually

Onsite has other advantages, with 65% of Robert Half’s survey respondents citing “more effective relationships with colleagues they’ve met face-to-face” than with those they haven’t.  More workers (49%) were also more comfortable collaborating in person than virtually (31%).

Many hybrid employees are required to be onsite a certain number of days each week. Others traipse into the office only for meetings or when they want to satisfy a personal need for human interaction. Zooms and Microsoft Teams meetings are no substitutes, they said.

Their company position, as well as the number of days they work onsite, often determines whether these workers have their own designated workspace. If that’s not the case, as part of a corporate practice known as hoteling, they can reserve a desk on an as-needed basis through an app or online portal; with a call to a corporate number; or simply find an empty desk to park themselves for the day.

As a team, we all try to come in on Thursdays, and we can choose any desks we like. 

—Diandra Binney

Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

“As a team, we all try to come in on Thursdays, and we can choose any desks we like,” said Bayshore resident Diandra Binney, who serves as the U.S. head of communications for New Zealand-based Xero, a small business accounting platform with a Manhattan office. Her own go-to spot is a desk by a “window for the light.”

Binney, who works once a week at Xero and the rest of the days in her bedroom’s alcove-turned-home office, has mixed feelings about remote labor. “There are missed opportunities for collaborations, and it gets lonely,” she said. “I’m an extrovert and miss the human connection.”  

But thanks to her hybrid schedule and because her job involves connecting with  colleagues in Australia, which is 15 hours ahead of New York, Binney volunteers on Mondays from 7 a.m. to 9 a.m. at a Smithtown dog shelter; takes her golden retriever for a half-hour midday walk to the ferries every day; and, depending on her workload, occasionally attends an hour-long kickboxing class in Bay Shore.

Diandra Binney walking her dog Miley in Bay Shore. Diandra works four days a week in her Bay Shore apartment and once a week commutes 3 hours to and from her Manhattan office. Credit: Newsday/Alejandra Villa Loarca

Islip resident Mecca Baker, who serves as regional vice president of Audit Americas for Commerzbank, works three days a week in her firm’s Manhattan location. While she sees her in-office days as opportunities to get to know colleagues in face-to-face conversations, which “can help build trust,” she said her remote days allow her to be more productive and focused on work, including “working longer hours when needed.”

Without her hour-and-45-minute commute, which gets her into the office between 8:30 a.m. and 9:00 a.m., Baker can begin working as early as 7 a.m. to participate in virtual international meetings.

Working remotely, she can also spend more time with her husband and their twin 14-year-old daughters, as well as be available for homework help. (On other days, her husband, who returns home from his job by 6 p.m., can help them.)  

Mecca Baker of Islip can take her lunch break at Islip Beach when she works from home.  Credit: Rick Kopstein

But on home days, Baker said, she needs to be “intentional about fitness,” tracking her steps and exercising after work. She also takes a five-minute coffee break in her backyard and, weather permitting, eats lunch at the Islip beach.

Long Beach resident Colleen O’Connor, a senior account executive at Crenshaw Communications in Manhattan, combats the otherwise deskbound workdays at home by jumping on her Peloton bike for 30 minutes in the morning to keep her “adrenalin running” or after work “to decompress. ”

Colleen O'Connor of Long Beach can hop on her Peloton bike on remote work days.  Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Generally, O’Connor commutes once or twice a week to Crenshaw, including on Thursdays, a day “to kick off the weekend” and get together with friends after work. “I’m a naturally social person and it gets lonely to sit on Zoom calls all day. I love coming into the office and having face-to-face conversations.”

I’m a naturally social person and it gets lonely to sit on Zoom calls all day.

—Colleen O’Connor

Credit: Newsday/ J. Conrad Williams Jr.

Nevertheless, working from home has its rewards: she can drive a cousin’s child to school twice a week and still log in to work at 9 a.m.

In his four-bedroom Dix Hills home, Robert Fried has claimed a bedroom as his home office. But with three kids, 7, 4 and 7 months, Fried, who works remotely about three days a week, faces assorted distractions, from dealing with the noise level to occasionally watching the baby while his wife picks up their middle child from nursery school.

“I try to stay focused, but it can be tough,” said Fried, senior vice president and global head of forensics and investigations for Sandline Global LLC, a Falls Church, Virginia-based company with an office in the city.

On remote days, he works from 8:15 a.m. to about 7:30 p.m. On in-office days, his three-hour round-trip commute has him leaving the house as early as 6:45 a.m. and returning as late as 9 p.m.

At home, Fried takes a break walking in his neighborhood or observing his chickens, which came with his house, ambling about in his backyard.

Working from home gives me a break from the hyper-activity of the city.

—Robert Fried

Credit: Rachael Fried

“Working from home gives me a break from the hyper-activity of the city,” Fried said.

David Persaud worked remotely for about two months — from March to June 2020. It wasn’t for him. He experienced erratic WiFi, heard dogs barking in the background and gained about 15 pounds “running back and forth to the refrigerator.” (He has since lost the weight.)

I had my family [at home] but I felt isolated not having the camaraderie and the conversations with my coworkers.

—David Persaud

Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

“I had my family [at home] but I felt isolated not having the camaraderie and the conversations with my coworkers,” said the South Richmond Hill, Queens resident and vice president of underwriting at Roslyn-based insurance company EmPRO, a subsidiary of Physician Reciprocal Insurers. “I couldn’t just pop my head into an office and ask a question.”

So, when his company called all workers back to the office full time, he was ready.

According to EmPRO chairman, CEO and president Bruce Shulan, several factors led to the decision to end remote work, including deteriorating customer service and communication and the loss of spontaneous face-to-face collaborations. 

To help ensure returning workers’ safety, EmPRO implemented a bunch of measures, including designating one-way directional staircases, which have since been discontinued, and limiting occupancy on smaller elevators, which continues. 

And to make employees happy to be back,  EmPRO invested $2 million-plus in building renovations including an upgraded cafeteria, break spaces with big screen TVs and a gym with locker rooms. The upgrades also help with recruiting, in an industry where hybrid schedules are more the norm. 

Bruce Shulan, EmPRO CEO, left, and David Persaud, VP underwriting, right, get snacks from Rob Mansfield of Seacliff, center, owner of Grass Roots by Epicured, a juice bar now located inside the company's renovated Roslyn office. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

EmPRO CEO Bruce Shulan has mandated that all employees, except those who have extenuating circumstances, work five days a week in the office, which was recently renovated to make it more inviting to employees. Credit: Debbie Egan-Chin

”The human interaction is very important to us, and benefits virtually all aspects of the company,” Shulan said, adding that the business is doing a better job with “everyone coming to work every day.”  

A hybrid schedule suits East Meadow resident Christina Principato — and her grandmother, Alfonsa Sferrazza, 89.

Once or twice a week, Principato works at an app-reserved desk in KPMG’s Melville office or at a client’s office on Long Island or in the city. The other days, the senior manager in KPMG’s media and telecommunications audit practice does her job at the dining room table — with Sferrazza reading, coloring or doing math problems across from her.

Working at home lets Christina Principato, left, keep an eye on her grandmother, Alfonsa Sferrazza, and vice versa.  Credit: Rosa Principato

“She’s doing her work, and I’m doing mine,” said Principato, who gave up an Astoria apartment at the start of Covid to move in with her parents, both of whom work onsite.  Sferrazza lives part-time at their home and also with other relatives. When Principato goes to the office, her grandmother stays at an uncle’s during the day.   

“I’ve learned a lot more Italian from my grandma in three years than in my whole life, and the model has given me time with loved ones, particularly my grandma,” Principato said, adding, “She thinks she’s watching me.”

How to beat work-from-home challenges

  • Eschew the fridge’s distractive pull by playing with the dog or going for a walk.
  • Establish boundaries about the best ways and times to reach you, but make sure you're in sync with your boss's needs.
  • Recognize that you’ll need child care help if you have young children at home so you can focus on work but be mindful that sometimes kids just want their parents.
  • Restore your ability to focus before another Zoom by getting up and moving around for a few minutes.
  • Tackle loneliness by meeting coworkers in a coffeeshop to brainstorm ideas, going to the office, even if that’s not required, and volunteering — don’t only spend free time scrolling social media.

Source: Pamela Buckle, professor at Adelphi University’s Robert B. Willumstad School of Business

How employers can prevent security breaches

With hybrid employees taking corporate laptops and folders to and from home, as well as public places along the way, confidential business information can wind up in the wrong hands.

Robert Fried, senior vice president and global head of forensics and investigation at Sandline Global LLC, suggests these safeguards:

  • Assign a unique password/passcode to corporate-designated equipment to prevent its unauthorized use.
  • Discourage accessing the public WiFi in public places and have employees use an encrypted connection or Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to the corporate-protected secure network. 
  • Use privacy screens and laptop locks for the office, at home, during commutes and in other public spaces.
  • Prohibit using business equipment, including laptops, phones, tablets and printers, for personal use; and emailing and scanning from corporate and personal devices.
  • Use personal chargers for mobile devices instead of public charging stations to prevent possible data breaches.

— Cara S. Trager

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