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Will The Remote Office Become Habit After The Coronavirus Pandemic?

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Will The Remote Office Become Habit After The Coronavirus Pandemic?

Boston Properties, Inc. (NYSE: BXP), Hudson Pacific Properties Inc (NYSE: HPP) and Highwoods Properties Inc (NYSE: HIW) have a lot to worry about these days.

The coronavirus has forced a global work-from-home experiment that could prove the utility — or the uselessness — of these office REITs.

What Could Happen?

When the quarantines are lifted, managers may be relieved to corral their workforces back in a common space, where they are more easily motivated and held accountable to produce at their proven capacity.

Employees will be able to leave the din of child-rearing, the dearth of office supplies and the unreliability of home internet for a more productive environment.

That’s one scenario. The other is that Zoom Video Communications Inc (NASDAQ: ZM), Atlassian Corporation PLC (NASDAQ: TEAM) and Slack Technologies Inc (NYSE: WORK) become office staples, and managers see no need to physically meet anymore. It would mean that employees demonstrated their their efficiency when given a deadline and some scheduling flexibility.

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What’s Likely To Occur? 

Before the coronavirus struck, some companies had already experimented with remote workspaces. To appeal to a younger workforce, they packaged telecommute flexibility into their recruitment offers.

Remote work increased 159% in the U.S. between 2005 and 2017, according to FlexJobs and Global Workplace Analytics. 

Pilots have been started across industries by companies of all sizes — by UnitedHealth Group Inc (NYSE: UNH), Dell Technologies Inc (NYSE: DELL), Kelly Services, Inc. (NASDAQ: KELYA), Automatic Data Processing (NASDAQ: ADP), American Express Company (NYSE: AXP) and more.

Many companies have made the flexible work initiatives a fixture in office policy — but not all. Yahoo cut back on its remote offerings in 2013, and Bank of America Corp (NYSE: BAC), Honeywell International Inc. (NYSE: HON), Best Buy Co Inc (NYSE: BBY), HP Inc (NYSE: HPQ) and IBM (NYSE: IBM) followed suit. 

The companies cited hitches in access, individual productivity and collaboration as reasons to summon everyone back to home base. Some tried to crack down on workers “playing hookey” during remote work days.

In short: telecommute experiments have worked for some and failed for others. So when the coronavirus outbreak settles and state governments give the all-clear, many employees will regroup at the office — and many could find a new home on Slack.

Related Links:

Microsoft Pilots 4-Day Week, Raises Productivity 40%

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Photo courtesy of Slack. 

 

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