More local bosses are hiring off Long Island due to the rise of working from home, according to a poll of business and nonprofit leaders released on Tuesday.
Seven in 10 CEOs said remote work is now part of their organization in a survey conducted between Sept. 8 and Oct. 24 by PKF O'Connor Davies accountants and the Siena College Research Institute. The poll had 347 respondents.
Among the leaders managing remote workers, 3 in 10 said they are looking outside of New York State for employees, while 2 in 10 are recruiting in the state but not on the Island.
"Long Islanders should be worried about this because paychecks are being sent to states like Pennsylvania, Ohio, North Carolina and Kentucky — and being spent there instead here," Siena pollster Don Levy said in an interview after presenting the survey results at a breakfast organized by PKF. He added that 70% of economic activity on the Island and in the nation is derived from consumer spending.
In the PKF/Siena poll, almost 70% of CEOs said they cannot find enough skilled workers in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Nearly six in 10 CEOs said offering remote work is attractive to prospective hires.
Forty percent of the business leaders said up to half of their workforce is remote — but only 11% said everyone is working from home.
Asked about the impact of remote work, the CEOs were evenly divided on whether employee productivity has improved or worsened. Forty-seven percent said communication among employees has deteriorated, according to the survey.
Businesses that serve office workers, such as delis, coffee shops, restaurants and retail shops, are struggling, said Kristen Reynolds, CEO of the tourism promotions agency Discover Long Island.
"If you can get people to come back to the office as much as possible, that helps our businesses because people go out to lunch," she said, responding to a question from PKF co-partner Jeff Davoli, who moderated a panel discussion about the survey results.
Panelist Stacey Sikes, vice president of government affairs at the Long Island Association, said, "Remote work is here to stay … and it expands the talent pool" for Long Island employers.
Panelists Donald X. Clavin Jr., Hempstead town supervisor, and Edward P. Romaine, Brookhaven town supervisor, noted that CEOs' optimism about the region's economic outlook is at the lowest point since the survey began in 1995.
In the PKF/Siena poll, 32% of business leaders said they expect the local economy to improve in the next 12 months, down from 61% in the 2021 poll. The number who predicted the economy would worsen rose to 45% compared with 19% a year earlier.
Asked about the probability of a recession this year, 63% said one is likely, 23% said "almost certain," and only 12% said unlikely.
Levy, the pollster, said, 2022 was "truly a difficult year" in terms of inflation, supply chain issues and the worker shortage. "That is reflected in the responses of Long Island CEOs …[and as a result] there is growing pessimism in the marketplace."
TAKING THE PULSE OF CEOs on Long Island
- With the ability to work from home, we now hire from areas in New York State, outside of Long Island: 21%
- With the ability to work from home, we now hire from outside of New York State: 30%
- Employees are more productive when they work from home than when they are in the office: True, 50%; False, 50%
- The quality of work is better with remote workers than those who are in the office: True, 44%; False, 56%
SOURCE: The Long Island Economic Survey by PKF O'Connor Davies accountants and the Siena College Research Institute