Welcome back.

🚨 📖 Wow. You sent us 1,00o+ (and counting) book recommendations last night.

Smart Brevity™ count: 580 words ... 2 min.

1 big thing: Your office, forever changed

Data: Kastle Systems. Chart: Axios Visuals
Data: Kastle Systems. Chart: Axios Visuals

This graphic, similar to some confidential polling we've seen, 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 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 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) are scattering far from 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.

  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, Tennessee — 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 companies offering remote work. Half of workers would rather quit than be told to return full-time, a survey from the HR consultancy Robert Half found.

🔮 Your future foretold: At Axios, we are fully remote. Tomorrow, we're doing what will soon be commonplace: We're holding a partial staff retreat in a rising tech and job hub — Charlotte, North Carolina. 

💡 A trio of inspiring goals

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Three Finish Liners shared their reading journeys with us after yesterday's newsletter on the reading renaissance:

  • "I have a goal to read my age in books every year, slowly turning up the dial. I'm on track to well exceed my goal of 37 by next birthday." —Kris Ansin from Tyngsboro, Mass. A favorite: "For Whom the Bell Tolls," by Ernest Hemingway.
  • "I’m 65 and started this list of 100 books to read before you die about a year ago. I got the idea from the 'Equalizer' movie. I’m on book 81." —Lee Pelham from Tallassee, Ala. A favorite: "Here's to You, Jesusa!" by Elena Poniatowska.
  • "I, too, am an English major.  In fact, after getting my M.A. in English Literature, I started a business running book clubs for grownups and for Parent/Child combos from 1st through 8th grades. This was in 2008, and we are still going gangbusters here in the Bay Area!" —Liz Epstein from Woodacre, Calif. A favorite: "The Cellist of Sarajevo" by Steven Galloway.

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