Welcome to the inaugural edition of @Work, Axios' new newsletter exploring the social, technological and economic trends transforming jobs and the workplace.
I've got 1,535 words for you today — a 6-minute read.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
In a matter of weeks, the coronavirus crisis has triggered indelible shifts in the way America works.
The big picture: The pandemic is accelerating the onset of new trends in work — toward telecommuting, new office layouts and a different work-life balance. And we’re already seeing signs that these effects will outlast the crisis.
Teleworking has taken over. Many of us are entering the second full month of working from home — and growing steadily accustomed to that lifestyle. “Remote work has gone from an HR-level discussion to a C-suite-level discussion,” says Prithwiraj Choudhury, a professor at Harvard Business School.
Families are changing. Suddenly, Americans are doing their jobs, schooling their children and spending family time in the same space. Despite the inevitable tensions, these months of togetherness could strengthen family ties for years to come.
Workspaces are transforming. The offices that workers eventually return to won't look like the ones they left in March.
The bottom line: It's still too early to gauge the extent of the coronavirus' impact on work, but the changes it's already creating have implications for everything from how we conduct meetings with colleagues to how we file income taxes to the nature of our lunch breaks.
Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios
Although many, many companies pulled off relatively seamless transitions to operating fully remote, workers are discovering unforeseen consequences of the sudden switch.
The big picture: This is not normal teleworking. Typically, employees aren't caring for or schooling kids while on the job — and they're not prohibited from seeing friends, working from a coffee shop or going to the gym.
There could also be longer-term consequences of this grand experiment in remote work, experts tell Axios.
At the same time, companies are coming up with innovative ways to ease employees' discomfort and pain as they navigate working while quarantined.
The novel coronavirus is also accelerating the adoption of certain workplace benefits that were already on the rise, reports Fortune, citing survey data from the Society for Human Resource Management.
A worker at a New York City grocery store. Photo: Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images
Discussions around remote work in the time of coronavirus overlook a huge share of Americans: The 60 million essential workers who didn't go home — and who are dealing with the most drastic and dangerous workplace changes.
By the numbers: Only around 37% of U.S. jobs can be done remotely, per new research from University of Chicago economists.
Companies abruptly sent their employees home to curb the spread of the coronavirus, but bringing those apprehensive employees back after the pandemic won't be so easy — particularly to increasingly cramped, open-plan offices.
The big picture: If you remember accidentally kicking the wastebasket under your desk or constantly scooting in to let your co-worker walk by back in the days when we still went to offices, you're not alone. Over the last four decades, Americans' personal space at work has steadily shrunk.
What to watch: Companies may have to alter their office layouts drastically in order to welcome back employees safely — and some firms are already doing so.
Here's what I'm reading this week:
J. Crew's bankruptcy is likely the first of many driven by coronavirus shutdowns (Axios)
South Korea's guide to reopening your office (Quartz)
Crying on the job (The New York Times)
Imagine the post-pandemic misery of business travel (The Economist)
Getting suit alterations in the Netherlands during a global pandemic. Photo: Robin Utrecht/Echoes Wire/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
The coronavirus is prompting a plexiglass manufacturing boom.
What's happening: Plexiglass sales have tripled — or even quadrupled — across the U.S. and in the U.K., Amelia Tait writes in Medium's Marker. That demand will climb even higher if states begin to reopen before there's a coronavirus vaccine (the likely scenario).
Seemingly overnight, grocery stores and pharmacies across the U.S. outfitted their locations with plexiglass shields to separate workers and customers.
Thanks for reading!