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Many businesses telling employees to stay home ahead of Friday storm

Many Massachusetts businesses were hurriedly telling employees not to bother coming into the office on Friday during the expected blizzard, while others said they were leaving it up to workers to decide whether they can make it.

With the MBTA shutting down at 3:30 Friday afternoon, including commuter rail lines, and Governor Deval Patrick asking commuters to stay off the roads, most corporate work sites will probably be empty anyway on Friday.

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Jones Lang LaSalle, a commercial real estate firm, sent its Boston employees an e-mail in big red letters telling them not to go to the downtown Boston office Friday unless absolutely necessary.

“We’re all jamming two days of work into one,” said spokesman Stephen Steinberg, who recalls nearly getting stranded during the Blizzard of 1978. “People will still be working, but much of it will be virtual work from home.”

In Needham, software maker PTC Inc. will close its campus Friday and is telling the 1,000 or so people who work there to work from home, if possible.

Another major technology employer, EMC Corp. of Hopkinton, told its roughly 9,000 employees in New England to consider staying home on Friday. The company also has a 24-hour “snow line” for updates on company facilities.

Fidelity Investments, which has thousands of workers in downtown Boston, Southern New Hampshire, and Rhode Island, said it expects many people to work from home Friday. Decisions will be up to individual managers, spokesman Vin Loporchio said.

‘We are telling everyone tonight to bring home their laptops and power cords so they can work from home.’

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Bank of America will close most of its Massachusetts branches at noon Friday.

Technology is making it easier for companies to close offices during sever weather; many businesses said they expect employees to be able to work from home. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts will close its offices Friday, but an “e-workforce” of more than 700 will swell to more than 2,000 employees sign on from home.

“We are telling everyone tonight to bring home their laptops and power cords so they can work from home,” said Katie Burke, a spokeswoman for HubSpot, a marketing software company in Cambridge. As of Thursday evening, the company had not decided whether to close its office on Friday.

HubSpot also created an online chat room — dubbed Snowpocalypse 2013 — for employees to share storm information

The forecast had many companies scrambling to secure their property, especially because near-gale force winds were forecast for Friday night.

Suffolk Construction, which has multiple high-rise building projects underway in Boston, had employees spending much of Thursday battening down work sites.

“The winds get very strong when you get up 300, 400 feet, so we’re locking down our buildings and making sure nothing hazardous can break loose,” said chief executive John Fish.

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