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Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

As coronavirus cases rise and fall, companies continue to grapple with the return to work: Should we ask workers to come to the office? Should we go remote forever? If we do hybrid, what does that look like?

Why it matters: Finding the answers to all of those questions is a windfall for consultants.

  • The return-to-office dilemma is the best thing to happen to consultants since Y2K, Bloomberg's Matthew Boyle reports.

All of the big consulting firms — like McKinsey, BCG, EY, Deloitte and more — have gotten into the remote work consulting game.

  • These "transformation services" the firms offer can cost anywhere from $5 million to $10 million per project, writes Boyle.
  • So with companies in every industry and of every size lining up to get answers, solving the return-to-work conundrum is turning into a lucrative business.

What to watch: Yes, consultants are offering their advice on hybrid work, but no one really knows what's coming or what work will look like when the pandemic is finally behind us.

  • Brad Bell, director of the Center for Advanced Human Resource Studies at Cornell told Boyle, "I've studied remote work for two decades, but what we experienced over the last year and a half is nothing like what we studied."

Go deeper

Updated Dec 20, 2021 - Health

Omicron surge pushes elite colleges back into 2020 mode

Harvard campus. Photo: Fan Lin/Xinhua via Getty

The rapid spread of the Omicron variant is forcing colleges and universities to adjust their pandemic policies, with Harvard announcing Saturday that it will go remote for the first three weeks of January in an attempt to stymie the spread on campus.

Why it matters: Omicron is threatening to overturn the new normal as it drives COVID-19 cases to double every 1.5 to 3 days in areas where there is community spread.

Updated 39 mins ago - Energy & Environment

Bomb cyclone prompts blizzard warnings from Virginia to Maine

Computer model projection showing the intense storm off of Cape Cod on Jan 29, 2022, with heavy snow and strong winds lashing the coastline. (Weatherbell.com)

Blizzard warnings are in effect for 11 million people from coastal Virginia to eastern Maine as a potentially historic winter storm is set to slam the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast beginning Friday.

Why it matters: The storm will bring hazards ranging from zero visibility amid hurricane force wind gusts and heavy snow, to coastal flooding that will erode vulnerable beaches and threaten property from the Jersey shore to coastal Massachusetts.

Updated 3 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Swastikas found outside Union Station in D.C.

People walk through Union Station on Jan. 16 in Washington, D.C. Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Drawings of swastikas appeared etched around the entrance to Union Station in Washington, D.C., on Friday morning.

Driving the news: "An investigation is underway with Amtrak Police and the Metropolitan Police Department after swastikas were reported on the exterior of Washington Union Station on Friday," Amtrak spokesperson Kimberly Woods said in a statement to Axios.