My daughter, a marketing communications manager in a personal financial company, works from home. My son-inlaw, who works for a company that produces video games, also works from home.
Their companies have their headquarters in the Bay Area. They live in a Denver suburb. My daughter used to drive to her company’s downtown Denver office before the pandemic. Her company is subleasing office space. A survey found that most staff prefer to work from home.
The workplace solution that the pandemic created seems to be here to stay. There may be modifications or hybrid models depending on a company’s requirements, but working from home is now an option for many.
“The days of the 9 to 5, Monday through Friday workweek, those are gone,” an HR executive told The Washington Post.
Working from home allows people to avoid rush hour traffic, at least in major US metropolitan areas. It allows mothers to supervise their nanny, as my daughter did, while she looked after her son of one year.
Remote working also has the added benefit of allowing companies to hire the best people for the job regardless of where they live. My daughter recently hired an assistant to work remotely from Utah. Many of her colleagues are in California.
I don’t think we can replicate the US experience. This is due to the fact that we don’t have the best broadband infrastructure and service, which is a prerequisite for working remotely. Although the pandemic is keeping most office workers at home, it’s not clear if this will become a permanent option once the virus has been cured.
Joey Bondoc from Colliers, Colliers head for research, says that a macroeconomic rebound will result in pent-up office space demand. He calls it the great return for the office sector.
While he pointed out a two percent increase on demand in the first nine month of last year’s, he also noted that some occupants continue vacating office space in Metro Manila.
Colliers’ vacancy forecast of 15.6 per cent by 2021 was retained. But hopeful as ever, Colliers sees “improvement in business sentiment in the next 12 months, complemented by greater vaccination rates, will likely lead to potential rebound in office space absorption in 2022.”
Colliers says that building owners must future-proof their office towers if they want tenants.
“In our view, there will likely be a heightened preference for sustainable buildings that provide natural lighting and optimize air quality, among other features.”
I wonder if Colliers or other property consultants are just wistful in the dark. We will see an increase in broadband quality and availability, which will allow us to work from home.
“Nearly two years after millions of Americans became abruptly acquainted with Zoom, questions about what the post-pandemic office will look like can be answered with a quick look around: It’s already here,” The Post observed in an article last week.
The Post continues: “The case for the functionality of remote work has largely been settled: The wheels of productivity continued to hum on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, and other corporate strongholds – even as their sprawling offices lay vacant. Employees stayed at home and learned how they could live at work. And throughout 2021, profits rolled in.”
Corporate leaders have no other choice. Remote working is a growing trend. Like my daughter, who moved to Colorado from the Bay Area to get a raise because of the lower taxes. She was able to adjust to her new role of mother by working remotely.
Some companies are trying hard to convince employees to accept hybrid models that provide some work in the office. The employees have the advantage in a competitive labor market with more than 10,000,000 job openings.
As it is, American workers are leaving jobs at record rates – a phenomenon economists have dubbed the Great Resignation. Executives cannot deny the demands of employees for flexibility. According to Morning Consult’s research, approximately 55 percent would consider quitting if they tried to force them to return to work, The Post reports.
Remote working is not necessarily a bad thing for companies. Employers noted that employees are less concerned about long commute times and can improve productivity. Additional benefits include lower operating and real estate costs.
Remote work comes with its own set of disadvantages. Remote work lacks the human touch that can shape company culture. There is no sense of corporate citizenship. Zoom makes it difficult to collaborate among staff.
Mentorship to develop promising employees is also impossible. This is especially true for investment banks, consulting firms, as well as sales organizations.
The chief executive of Ladders, a jobs site for positions that pay more than $100,000 told The Post that: “Remote is permanent. It’s here to stay, it’s accelerating, and it’s the largest change to American living and working arrangements since World War II.”
Data collected by Ladders indicate that, “three million professional jobs went permanently remote in the fourth quarter of 2021. 18% of all professional jobs had been eliminated by 2021. Ladders projects that number will be close to 25 percent by the end of 2022.”
Still, some white collar workers are uneasy about what they call the “Zoom mullet” or the practice of dressing up above the waist while wearing sweatpants and slippers outside the screen’s frame.
It is often called the perfect pandemic outfit. Research showed “a shift to more casual dress could help simplify things for employees juggling multiple roles and level the playing field for disadvantaged groups. Ultimately, it benefits the employer and the employee.”
Working from home can certainly increase productivity for many office workers in Metro Manila, Metro Cebu. It eliminates the commute and reduces their commute time. If broadband connectivity improves, it could be a reality. It could decongest Metro Manila quickly.
Boo Chanco’s email address is [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter @boochanco