For immediate release – Jan. 7, 2021
Moncton (NB) - A survey of major downtown Moncton office employers has confirmed many companies still have the majority of their employees working remotely more than nine months into the COVID-19 pandemic.
The survey, carried out by the Southeast Economic Recovery Task Force, highlights the need to develop strategies to offset the loss of so many regular downtown workers and the impact on other downtown businesses.
The survey was carried out in September and October by the Task Force, a stakeholder group consisting of the City of Moncton, City of Dieppe, Expansion Dieppe, Town of Riverview, Town of Sackville, Chamber of Commerce for Greater Moncton, 3+ Corporation, Downtown Moncton Centre-ville, Working NB, Opportunities New Brunswick and the United Way of Greater Moncton and Southeast NB.
Key takeaways include that two-thirds of surveyed businesses have some or all of their employees working from home. All of these businesses plan on adopting a “hybrid model” in which employees will continue to split their time between home and office.
Several companies expressed concern for downtown Moncton’s vitality due to COVID, although many also said they had encouraged their employees to shop local and spend personal time downtown.
On a positive note, 12 of the 14 businesses surveyed said they do not anticipate layoffs and 11 of 14 do not foresee changes to their office space.
Common reasons for continuing to encourage work-from-home include difficulty maintaining physical distance and following other public health guidelines in the office, the fact staff enjoy remote work and remain as productive, and that some company return-to-work decisions are dictated by head offices in larger cities where COVID-19 is more prevalent.
In response to the findings, the Task Force is preparing an action plan to support downtown businesses. That will include lobbying the federal and provincial governments to return as many employees as possible to the city core, as the City of Moncton has already done.
The Task Force also plans to meet again with large private sector companies to provide more insight on the impact of remote work to the health of downtown Moncton. Marketing campaigns, including ones focused on shopping local, have also been launched during the recent holiday season and more are planned for 2021.
The downtown workforce survey is just one of several initiatives undertaken by the Task Force since it was formed early in the pandemic.
The Task Force stakeholders have partnered to carry out several data research projects on employment and hiring trends, and economic growth or decline by sector. A strategy for economic recovery was created in May and the Task Force recently developed an action plan based on that strategy and research.