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Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

It’s starting: Employers are asking workers to go back to the office this summer. Those callbacks are expected to be more common after Labor Day.

Why it matters: Getting back to normal could undo the total work-at-home routine office workers have adopted.

The latest: JPMorgan expects employees back in person — on a rotating basis — by July, per CNBC. Citigroup workers will trickle in then too.

  • Bloomberg reports ExxonMobil wants Houston-based employees at desks on a full-time basis by mid-May.
  • An ExxonMobil spokesperson says it's "already been implementing a phased approach to bringing personnel back" to its Houston campus.
  • Deutsche Bank — along with a lengthy list of others — will let some people work from home some days "in a structured way," as it reopens, its CFO said today.

Context: 21% of the employed worked remotely as of last month — down from the peak (35%) in May 2020, when the government first reported this datapoint. 

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Erica Pandey: Even as the back-to-office summer commences, many will stay home, and we’re far from returning to the workplaces we left last March.

  • The return approaches all leave wiggle room ("rotating" or "hybrid"). Companies know that many of their employees have grown accustomed to working from home and want the option to keep doing so.

What to watch: "It's relatively easier to be remote when everyone is remote. The challenge is, when people go back, a stigma starts to rear its head," Nela Richardson, economist at payroll processor ADP, told reporters today. 

  • Who goes back — and is rewarded, advantaged for returning — is a big question, says Richardson.

What's next: Whether the flexibility becomes a worker bargaining chip.

  • "Some people will prefer to work from home more or less days" and are prepared to switch employers to do that, Stanford professor Nick Bloom tells Axios. 

Go deeper

Bryan Walsh, author of Future
Aug 5, 2021 - Technology

How remote work raises the risks of cyberattacks

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

The pandemic-driven shift to remote work has been accompanied by a rise in cyberattacks on corporations — and that's not a coincidence.

Why it matters: Cyberattacks can cost companies millions and the broader economy billions. With remote work likely to stay — especially with the surging Delta variant — companies need to prioritize and retool cyberdefense for a more distributed working world.

D.C.-Beijing tensions are shifting markets

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

U.S. markets stand to lose $2 trillion in value if D.C. and Beijing drift further apart.

Why it matters: Political chasms are showing up in new securities regulations that put companies and investors in a bind. The rules are also another reflection of how much relations between the world’s largest economies have cooled, even as they remain economically interdependent. 

3 hours ago - Health
Axios Investigates

Documents reveal the secrecy of America's drug pricing matrix

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

American businesses spend hundreds of billions of dollars a year on prescription drugs, and the bills keep getting bigger. But some of the companies promising to help rein in those costs prevent employers from looking under the hood.

Why it matters: Documents provided to Axios reveal a new layer of secrecy within the maze of American drug pricing — one in which firms that manage drug coverage for hundreds of employers, representing millions of workers, obscure the details of their work and make it difficult to figure out whether they're actually providing a good deal.

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