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Will Work From Home Be a Permanent Trend


Do You Think Companies Will Offer Work From Home After Covid 19?  

162 members have voted

  1. 1. Do You Think Companies Will Offer Work From Home After Covid 19?

    • Absolutely, productivity is the same
    • No, I can't Get Any Work Done At Home
    • Don't Know, Very Case Specific
    • Depends on Commute
    • Depends on the Kind of Work
    • Depends on Seniority
    • Depends on who is primary child care provider
    • Yes, Companies will try to offload more real estate cost to employees
    • WTF? I can't cook fries at home!!! I can't wrestle alligators at home!! What, give up the water cooler?


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Since there is a very robust thread on Vornado and office REITs, I think it is essential that we gauge whether the work from home trend is permanent or not.  If you can also state the following, it will be very helpful if you can provide the following so that we can form some sort of data point

 

Job title/description

Industry you work in

City and Country

Anything expected or unexpected from being forced to work from home

 

Thanks

 

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I will start with the poll

 

Fund Manager

Finance

NYC, USA

Unexpected - Until I started a Keto diet, I packed on 5-10 pounds of weight every single year because working from home took away 6-10k steps each day when I used to take the subway into the city.  Anyone who works from home should try reducing carbs from their diet.  I do miss the water coolers and chatting with co-workers.  It does get lonely sometimes and that is why we all have other investors/fund managers that we chat with regularly.  I think Weight Watchers will have tremendous demand as people will put on a ton of weight being forced to stay home.  On FB, many of my friends has already mentioned how they can't stop snacking. 

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Was speaking about this with two coworkers today. One loved the idea because it saves him 2hrs of commute daily into the city. The other hates it because he lives in the city (brighton) and is in his apt with wife/kids.

 

I think now everyone is testing it, so we may see an uptick of people who are WFH for the first time and decide to stick with it.

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I think it's a secular trend and why I hate office space based real estate companies. But it won't go away overnight. Think malls, except nobody actually likes going to work. People still like going to the mall.

 

But logistically, its not really great. So many people have told me how their biggest problem during this shut down is getting anything done with their spouse/kids constantly interrupting them. Maybe some wealthy folks have real home offices, but not most normal workers. Good luck getting your spread sheets done in your 2000 sq ft home with your wife and 3 kids...

 

Finance professionals should be able to no problem. But the egos need to be caressed with wasteful corner offices and trophy pictures on display for clients, so those will stick around. But really, anyone in accounting/finance should be able to. I work from home, and have several small offices in different cities for the purpose of accommodating folks and getting out of the house. Total luxury though as they arent needed one iota. Need to meet a client? Take the client out for a nice meal and write off the $500 and the experience will be better than wasting thousands on an office.

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I think it's a secular trend and why I hate office space based real estate companies. But it won't go away overnight. Think malls, except nobody actually likes going to work. People still like going to the mall.

 

But logistically, its not really great. So many people have told me how their biggest problem during this shut down is getting anything done with their spouse/kids constantly interrupting them. Maybe some wealthy folks have real home offices, but not most normal workers. Good luck getting your spread sheets done in your 2000 sq ft home with your wife and 3 kids...

 

Finance professionals should be able to no problem. But the egos need to be caressed with wasteful corner offices and trophy pictures on display for clients, so those will stick around. But really, anyone in accounting/finance should be able to. I work from home, and have several small offices in different cities for the purpose of accommodating folks and getting out of the house. Total luxury though as they arent needed one iota. Need to meet a client? Take the client out for a nice meal and write off the $500 and the experience will be better than wasting thousands on an office.

 

Greg,

 

Your mall comments = You're so Jersey. :)

 

I spoke with an accounting employee and she said that "she can't get work done because the kids are home, but if they are in school, she would love to work from home."

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Maybe we need to think a bit more 'out of the box' and consider hybrids i.e. workshare spaces in residential neighbourhoods - so people can escape their families, but have a short commute most of the time if they don't have meetings?

 

Obviously lots of details to work out.

 

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If this was long term and there was not a virus around then people would have their kids in day care, at grand parents, or at school.  Working from home would then become a much different experience then it is today.

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Job title/description:  ASIC Design Engineer

Industry you work in: Semiconductor

City and Country:  Boston Area  (live 60 miles from Boston in Southern NH, Work 35 miles from Boston in Northern MA).

Anything expected or unexpected from being forced to work from home:  Nothing unexpected.  I've worked from home a lot in the past already. On snowy days, when I wasn't feeling well, or just when I had an appointment during or after work hours.  Many of my co-workers work from home from time to time as well.  The difference now is that we are all doing it everyday.  We've been using skype (mostly for IM and some audio and sharing of desktops to discuss things) to keep in almost constant contact with each other.  Zoom for larger meetings with slides and a presenter.  We successfully taped out a chip on a very tight deadline last week, missing our projected date by only 2 days.  This deadline was unrealistic from the start and it was amazing that we got so close regardless of where everyone was working.  All and all I don't see any productivity loss at all.  Some other considerations is that my house is fairly quiet.  My kids are adults, 1 lives in Florida on her own and the other works full time and is still working outside of the house.  My wife is home, but she doesn't bother me while I am working.  I did used to work from home occasionally when the kids were small as well (2003-2011), and I would keep the kids out of the room I was in.  Back then I had a long commute and used to work from home often, but communication with co-workers was more of an issue.  I had to call them on my house phone or they had to call me.  It is definitely something that is doable at scale now for many jobs.

 

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Job title/description:  Founding partner of firm

 

Industry you work in: Law

 

City and Country:  Philadelphia, PA, USA area  (live 20 miles from Philadelphia, office in Center City)

 

Anything expected or unexpected from being forced to work from home:  I'm around 40 with 1+ hour commute.  The option of working from home a few days per week is very appealing. 

But when I was 22 and just starting my first post-college job in New York, I would never have signed up for working all day from my cramped, dingy and dimly-lit apartment.

 

As for office space now, I still need it for client meetings, depositions, etc.  For those reasons, downtown office space isn't going away for law firms.  The prime office space law firms need has shrunk over time as the number of secretaries declines and firm-wide back-office functions are moved off-site to cheaper locations.  On the other hand, at a top law firm, every lawyer -- even a new associate -- expects to have an exterior office with windows.  That leaves alot of dead space in the interior of squarish floor plates that used to be occupied by secretaries.  Newer buildings with differently shaped floor plates that minimize interior, windowless space help address this problem.

 

More broadly, depending on what they do, I think people just starting out in their fields could be making a big mistake by working primarily from home.  For professional service firms where business generation (or internal politics) is ultimately what separates the top earners/owners from middle management, you need to build as many connections as possible, and it's easier to do that when you're physically present in the same area as the people you should get to know.  That's less of an issue if you're already 40 or 50 years old and have an established reputation and client base.

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Job title/description:  Data Scientist with focus on in-production models

Industry you work in: Financial Services

City and Country:  Reside in DC with clients in the US and Int'l.

 

Anything expected or unexpected from being forced to work from home: My work ramped up substantially with production issues daily. Coordinating with a medium/large team that's dealing with live drills is awful. I'm literally on Zoom/phone/email/skype concurrently while expected to review math and code that goes with it. Quality assurance is paramount and obviously nobody invested in automation prior to this. Upside - more work that we charge for. Downside - not all clients deal well with being overwhelmed and stressed out. 

My firm has a large contingent of people that's 1-2 years out of college. Anecdotally, I've had a few colleagues that wondered if their staff were either drunk/hungover/high. I've heard of requests that everyone be on Zoom for the entire day.

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By the way, these are amazing feedbacks and really helps to paint a better picture.  I guess this is a very male dominated board.  I kind of wish we had more female inputs where childcare decisions can be bought to the forefront. 

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Job title/description: ML Engineer

Industry you work in: Automotive

City and Country: Israel

Anything expected or unexpected from being forced to work from home: We are way ahead of schedule. Mainly because open space in the office doesn't fit the culture of the country. Remote sessions with the US are also easier to schedule now. This is nice and all, but personally I really like meeting the people at the office.

I believe management will want us back to desks ASAP as our colleagues in the US did complain about issues regarding working from home. Government is also pushing tech to be the first non essential sector to break confinement and commute, because they need our income tax and have no idea how performance of actual work should be measured.

 

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If this WFH arrangement is going to be a semi permanent thing I will definitely need another bedroom...

 

Which makes me think ... if companies are going to ditch their offices and have their people work from home, would they not need to raise salaries so that each employee can afford a decent “home office”? Would that really be cheaper vs just renting an office and having people come in?

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As has been pointed out above - working from home is terrible if you are starting out. How are you going to learn how to conduct yourself, get trained or get to know your colleagues. It’s also hard for a supervisor to get to know you.

 

I would say a mix of working from home and a Wework like office setup, that is designed to encourage communication and teamwork ought to be something  they might work well.

 

As for myself, I am senior engineer/ project manager  and support special projects (design stage) and also manufacturing. I could (and have ) worked 80% from home and 20% on site. Started to do that in March when the crisis broke out without real issues , until the company I worked for put the hammer down on individual work arrange and told all engineer that we need to be on site.

 

I spoke with engineering managers of other companies in comparable field and they do this very differently. Oh well.

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Guest cherzeca

Job title/description:  Founding partner of firm

 

Industry you work in: Law

 

City and Country:  Philadelphia, PA, USA area  (live 20 miles from Philadelphia, office in Center City)

 

Anything expected or unexpected from being forced to work from home:  I'm around 40 with 1+ hour commute.  The option of working from home a few days per week is very appealing. 

But when I was 22 and just starting my first post-college job in New York, I would never have signed up for working all day from my cramped, dingy and dimly-lit apartment.

 

As for office space now, I still need it for client meetings, depositions, etc.  For those reasons, downtown office space isn't going away for law firms.  The prime office space law firms need has shrunk over time as the number of secretaries declines and firm-wide back-office functions are moved off-site to cheaper locations.  On the other hand, at a top law firm, every lawyer -- even a new associate -- expects to have an exterior office with windows.  That leaves alot of dead space in the interior of squarish floor plates that used to be occupied by secretaries.  Newer buildings with differently shaped floor plates that minimize interior, windowless space help address this problem.

 

More broadly, depending on what they do, I think people just starting out in their fields could be making a big mistake by working primarily from home.  For professional service firms where business generation (or internal politics) is ultimately what separates the top earners/owners from middle management, you need to build as many connections as possible, and it's easier to do that when you're physically present in the same area as the people you should get to know.  That's less of an issue if you're already 40 or 50 years old and have an established reputation and client base.

 

you want to see and be seen.  politics of the office is still very important,  recognition is all, and remote recognition is weak .  this holds true certainly at law firms, and likely many other firms

 

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Job title/description:  R&D manager

Industry you work in: Semiconductor

City and Country:  Antwerp Area (Belgium, live 20 miles from work).

 

Anything expected or unexpected from being forced to work from home:

I see great benifit to it, there have been tasks that I've been doing for years in excel which I finally could take the time to automate in python.  ;D

I'm also much more productive this way, on a normal day I get interrupted by someone every 15 minutes.

Our policy is to do the 8h/day, irregardless of when you do them, which offers quite a bit of flexibility.

So I can go grocery shopping, mow the lawn, go on a bike ride... when it suits me and then work later in the evening.

 

The downside is the contact with people, especially if things are going wrong in production and you need to be there to coach people, quite difficult from home.

Also meetings are not as efficient. Since quite a bit of my work requires proper change management, it is simply better to be present in the room to get a feeling where people are stuck.

And finallly: my wife & kid being home is quite a big distraction, but this should not be the case under 'normal working from home' circumstances.

 

All in all I normally never work from home but after the COVID-19 crisis I will be requesting one day per week.

 

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Job title/description:  Product/Risk Manager

Industry you work in: Insurance

City and Country:  NJ

 

I worked from home from time to time before. Prior to COVID, my group were already moving to partial WFH arrangements with free addressing workstations in office. Most of my colleagues will WFH 3 days a week. My company invested heavily in technology, such as virtual desktop, easy plugin docking stations, double monitors at home, etc. The experiences have been seamless and the only difference is I plug in my laptop downstairs at home rather than going to a cubicle in office.

 

So far, I haven't noticed any productivity differences when all my colleagues are working from home. That said, I'm not looking to climb corporate ladder so not seeing people is not an issue. I can see why someone wanting to advance career would want to spend more time in office.

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Job title/description:  Team Leader

Industry you work in: Federal Gov

City and Country:  Virginia (United States)

 

The Federal Gov can't seem to figure out what it wants the employees to do.  Under Bush 2, telework was sporadic.  Under Obama, we were pushed to telework.  Under Trump, they rolled a lot of that back, only to find out that they didn't have enough office space for everyone.  And with the pandemic, they want us working from home again.

 

Prior to the pandemic, I worked in the office about 1/3 of the time, at home 1/3 of the time, and on the road about 1/3 of the time. 

 

I run a team with employees that are scattered around the United States, so it doesn't really matter where I work most of the time.  Virtual communications (Skype, video, Bat Signal) are expected and routine, and if you can't deal with that, we get rid of you in your probationary period.  The remaining time, I need an office and conference space, to meet with industry, or with foreign govt officials.  As a result, I never was able to do 100% telework, and never will be able to in my current position. 

 

I will share one interesting observation, at least in my opinion.  Good leaders can lead, whether their staff is remote or in the office.  Shitty managers are shitty managers, regardless of where their staff are located.  I think remote work really highlights those that are good at leading and connecting with people, and those who believe leadership is randomly showing up at your office door to "make sure you are working". 

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Job title/description:  Team Leader

Industry you work in: Federal Gov

City and Country:  Virginia (United States)

 

The Federal Gov can't seem to figure out what it wants the employees to do.  Under Bush 2, telework was sporadic.  Under Obama, we were pushed to telework.  Under Trump, they rolled a lot of that back, only to find out that they didn't have enough office space for everyone.  And with the pandemic, they want us working from home again.

 

Prior to the pandemic, I worked in the office about 1/3 of the time, at home 1/3 of the time, and on the road about 1/3 of the time. 

 

I run a team with employees that are scattered around the United States, so it doesn't really matter where I work most of the time.  Virtual communications (Skype, video, Bat Signal) are expected and routine, and if you can't deal with that, we get rid of you in your probationary period.  The remaining time, I need an office and conference space, to meet with industry, or with foreign govt officials.  As a result, I never was able to do 100% telework, and never will be able to in my current position. 

 

I will share one interesting observation, at least in my opinion.  Good leaders can lead, whether their staff is remote or in the office.  Shitty managers are shitty managers, regardless of where their staff are located.  I think remote work really highlights those that are good at leading and connecting with people, and those who believe leadership is randomly showing up at your office door to "make sure you are working".

 

shhughes1116 - Can you expand on this topic "I will share one interesting observation, at least in my opinion.  Good leaders can lead, whether their staff is remote or in the office.  Shitty managers are shitty managers, regardless of where their staff are located.  I think remote work really highlights those that are good at leading and connecting with people, and those who believe leadership is randomly showing up at your office door to "make sure you are working". " 

 

As a way of background, I played a lot of sports in HS and my best friends and I are both captains of 2 teams.  I have noticed the 2-3 classes above us had a lot more ego and a-holes.  There were way more drama and infighting.  As I have grown my business a bit, I have had to develop a rag tag of interns and analyst spread over the places.  I really relish my junior year and particularly my senior year when everyone was on the same page.  While a lot of my HS and college friends have faded away over the years, the guys that I played sports with can still pick up and grab a beer when we see each other.  Any tips? Comments? Observations?  Is it being thoughtful?  Is it putting yourself in your employees' shoes?  Is it articulating the responsibilities well?  What do you deem to be most important? 

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