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Gov. Charlie Baker talks impact of long-term hybrid work model in Massachusetts

The Work-From-Home climate challenge
Eric Bailey
Creative Commons
The Work-From-Home climate challenge

Many employees have returned to an in-person daily grind more than two years after the pandemic reshaped public life, but even if a fraction of the workforce continues to embrace hybrid or remote models, the economic impacts will be "pretty significant," Gov. Charlie Baker told business leaders Thursday.

In remarks delivered at a New England Council breakfast, Baker said Massachusetts has fared better than other states in "bouncing back" from the toughest stretches of joblessness and financial strain inflicted by COVID-19.

Employers are still grappling with "churn" in the labor market, Baker said, fueled in part by the appeal of working from home a couple of days per week or all the time.

"They don't have to be half of what everybody does," Baker said. "They don't even have to be a third, but if it's 25 percent of what everybody does, the consequences of that are pretty significant in a lot of ways."

Baker used his remarks to the business group to highlight many of his legislative proposals that remain bottled up in committees, including a pair of bond bills to fund infrastructure improvements and economic development, a tax relief package, a push to make it easier to detain some criminal defendants deemed a risk to the community, and health care funding reforms.

That list is long with the July 31 end of formal lawmaking sessions looming just seven weeks away, a deadline on Baker's mind when he faced an audience question about the prospects of legalizing sports betting.

"The Legislature has a lot of stuff in front of it between now and the end of the year. It's hard to tell which pieces are going to find their way through to the end," Baker said. "I certainly hope this one does."

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