Mar 23, 2022 - Economy

Your office, forever changed

Data: Kastle Systems; Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Kastle Systems; Chart: Axios Visuals

This graphic sends an unmistakable message — one many bosses don't want to hear:

  • Never again will most office workers spend five-day, 40-hour weeks in physical buildings, jammed with humans. 

Why it matters: COVID will fade. But its legacy of habituating tens of millions of us to work from anywhere isn't going anywhere.

Welcome to the working world's Virtual Reality Era:

  • This new habit of convenience and comfort will be impossible to break for any company that relies on technologists and other hard-to-find workers. 
  • A slew of big companies — Nationwide Insurance, Pinterest, Coinbase, Dropbox — have already permanently switched to remote-first, shuttering most or all of their offices.

Case in point: Meta execs (including Mark Zuckerberg himself) are scattering far from HQ in Silicon Valley — to Israel, the U.K., Hawaii — to push the limits of remote leadership, The Wall Street Journal reports.

What to watch: Some CEOs are in denial, believing things will revert to normal. The data says: Fat chance, boss. Here's why:

  1. People bolted: 17% of office workers say they're working remotely because they moved away, a Pew study found. Just look at the soaring population and housing prices in America's new boomtowns and tech hubsMurfreesboro, Tenn. — a suburb of Nashville — has grown 20% during the pandemic, The New York Times notes.
  2. They demand flexibility: 75% of executives want to come back to the office three or more days a week — compared with just 37% of rank-and-file employees, according to a new Slack Future Forum report. 
  3. They'll quit: 11 million jobs are open in America. If a company forces people to come in, they'll go look for a job at one of the hundreds of startups and Fortune 500 companies offering remote work.
  • Half of workers would rather quit than be told to return full-time, a new survey from the HR consultancy Robert Half found.
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