Some More Thoughts On “Work From Home”

I saw a report earlier this week that 59% of advertising agency workers are putting in longer hours during the pandemic. I’m not surprised. Its tough to stop working when there’s no separation between work and home. Fears of layoffs and the need to prove that you’re adding value are also causing people to work more. For what it’s worth, the same thing happened during the 2008 recession. “Producers appear to be trying to continue production with less labor…”

With regard to tech companies giving employees the opportunity to work from wherever, well that sounds good right up until companies cut compensation based on the cost of living. Living in Denver or Austin or Nashville while making Silicon Valley money sounds great. But its not quite as appealing when your comp package has been cut. And then companies are going to further shift the burden of real estate expense onto the employee? I don’t know about anybody else, but I don’t want to convert my den into an office just so I can work remotely. This entire narrative sounds like a big capital unlock for companies rather than a benefit to employees.

Work from home feels like a great solution right now, and especially so for companies. They are generating productivity from fewer employees and have line-of-sight to cost reductions in two of their biggest cost centers. Employees are enjoying the freedom of working from home but I have to imagine that they’ll get wise to the costs before this is all over.

(And remember the post 2008 narrative that we’ll have perpetual underemployment? The January 2020 job numbers showed us that wasn’t true.)

 

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