No amount of perks are going to make an office more comfortable than my home. I don't care how good the coffee is or how many pizza days they have, it's not going to make up for wasting an hour or more of my life every day commuting.
I'll never willingly go back to the office.
But I'm still going to need to come back home whenever I need to get work done.
Early on in the industrial revolution, companies would send work to their workers for home work. Making cloth and whatnot.
I'm guessing this batch of "pro office" articles is just paid adverts / propaganda from members of the commercial real estate industry to shift perspectives.
to each their own
can't wait to get back to the office.
and I'm not willing to go live in some non walking friendly suburbia for a large house.
You don't have to be rich at all to have a nice office, you just need the flexibility to not have to be required to live in one of a handful a major metro areas where work is located.
That's why we're in a housing boom, because you can pay 50% over asking for more than 2x your living space, and reduce your monthly housing payment 20% or more.
I'll have saved enough from moving to afford all of the office equipment you describe just in the difference between my old rent and current mortgage... not to mention that every tech company I've worked at would gladly provide that setup to remote employees that needed it.
I get it though, everyone has different preferences and/or requirements.
I think there are alternatives to coming together in person than forcing everyone into an office, which if done with enough enthusiasm would be more productive and enjoyable for everyone.
Teams might be better having mandatory lunches once in awhile at a nice restaurant instead having mandatory onsite office time. Better the team’s performance, the better the restaurant.
Think about the money that having an office costs, and then think about how it could be better spent on team based experiences and growth activities.
Now: Someone must foot the bill for this!
I'd be curious to know if there are any common restrictions on commercial real estate that limit the upside in the name of some public interest, same as rent control. If this is the case, there may be more of a case for limiting the downside too.
Overall, I do agree with you, and what seems to be the common sentiment here, that investments are risky and the risk should be borne by the investor. But it becomes less clear when the investor is made to pay for some other policies out of their upside.
In the past 4 weeks I have received 6 resumes for people looking for remote work because they much prefer to live outside the city center and have more room for activities, and they don't want to go back to commuting for hours per day or sitting in traffic.
But the reality is I NEVER wanted to drive an hour for ANY office. I did simply because I had little choice. Now that I have a choice, I'm going to maximize it. It really is all about the travel time for me. I enjoy being in an office simply because it tends to make my day fly by... and I usually return home with great stories to share. But, the cost is way too high (time is money).
When I worked for Overstock, the CEO made such a big deal about this beautiful edifice he had erected.... The Peace Coliseum, it's called. The thing is, no one ever ASKED him to build it. As an engineer, I was quite satisfied at our old rented office space. But I get it, often when you're at that level, the edifice is an extension of your ego.
Converting a modern building would be very expensive. Converting a hotel on the other hand -- perfect. They already have plumbing and fire separation. An open plan office is just a shell.
However, given the (IMO probable) positive effects for less-than-rich, I would not protest such an outcome.
Converting office space to mass market housing could be a huge long term win. Cities like NYC and SF already have a huge shortage of overall non-luxury units which has caused rents in previously less expensive further out neighborhoods to spike. These neighborhoods aren’t super exciting to live in now so they’ll naturally be more affordable to start. Hopefully over time by mixing housing and residential in these central business districts they’ll become more vibrant w/ an economic engine that runs on nights/weekends too.
If commercial vacancies really do spike it may be better for cities to incentivize these conversions rather then let their midtown’s stagnate.
IMO we are more likely to see these become "luxury apartments", which means the expense of luxury minus the actual luxury.
I can see that deciding the future of offices. Do employees hold firm on these demands or just return to the office grumbling?
My career long experience has been that with any major hits to quality of life at a company: not every employee follows through, only the good ones.
While the switch to WFH might be a new issue, there have been continually waves of quality of life changes at companies durning different stages of growth. An obvious one is direct cuts to benefits, but others include rapid decrease in perks offered, change in vacation policy, change of office location etc.
In my experience good employees are quick to change whenever the signal from employers changes from "we respect you are want to reward you" to "we obviously don't care, or can't afford to care".
This happens all the time in startups that lose their trajectory. Snacks disappear, flexible work hours become more rigid, bonuses shrink etc.
So long as there are competitors out there who still offer these perks, good employees will leave often within a few months of the change. This causes a cascading effect where there are less good people on the team, so more and more people leave. Even if you don't care about perks, you care about good team mates.
I have seen multiple companies where after a major shock like this nearly all of the best and brightest are gone within a 6 month window.
What's funny about WFH is that the people that like it, like it so much they'll take a lower total comp to WFH. In the case of all the other perks I mentioned, a company has to pay more to keep them (and top talent). Sometimes it's just not possible to do this. With the return to office you're effectively spending money in drive out your top talent.
I'm sure plenty of companies will still do it, but I also suspect many companies that are looking for an edge will get an easy win by remaining remote friendly.
If we have to return, I won't quit. That's reckless, imho. But my resume will be updated and I will be open to remote positions. Many of my colleagues feel the same way.
This is what I assumed it would mean. Not that people would spontaneously quit, but that there would be some 30% of the workforce looking to be out the door.
I believe the delay in my company releasing their plan for return to office has a lot to do with IT. We are having issues with finding enough folks as is. I couldn't imagine what it would be like if 30% put their notice in.
Many such employees from this vocal minority will be cajoled back by employers allowing 1 WFH day. Perhaps more senior employees will be offered 2 WFH days, which to be fair would cut long commutes down by 40% per week.
In most such scenarios it seems companies will still require enough capacity for "peak" usage and instead of sharply reducing footprints will perhaps only delay their office expansion plans as they grow their staff.
Being able to move into his retirement home early would dramatically reduce his cost of living because he would sell his current home and actually hasten his retirement by a number of years.
As far as problems go it's a fairly "first world" one (as the saying goes), but it is something I think about.
Honestly it's what you make of it. One of the teams I work on presently consists entirely of remote staff now. I originally worked in the office but no one else did, now we're all remote.
The team is by far one of the better ones in our org and everyone gets along really well. It took me a while to warm up to everyone but some of the newer members eagerly engaged the group and have embedded themselves much more quickly.
The point about networking is quite cynical but I'm working in a fairly nepotistic sector (but well-compensated) so a few connections can go a very long way.
The "not getting distracted" thing can be a problem though. It's not for me, simply follow work hours. It's also less an issue I feel when you work closely with another (remote) developer. There will be PRs to review and PRs to deliver, that should motivate you easily. But for the record, you can also get distracted in an office - maybe more easily even.
I know a lot of people twist their noses at the mention of an office culture (it does appear most when it is negative), but the value of positive-culture cannot be underestimated. Teams that bond well work best. Can people bond over video calls?
These are going to be interesting times.
Also, anecdotally, my team lead and tech lead see no discernible difference in their ability to help teammates, and our interns are just as productive and participate in just as many help sessions.
NO! We all wear noise cancelling headphones to avoid that so we can ... work, so this is 100% total bullshit.
Oh, yeah. He was complaining about the noise, pre-Covid.
So your last paragraph seems to be a bit overstated. It may be true for you, but you state it like it's true for everybody, and it's not.
> Personally I would even buy my own laptop for work
This reduces your income if work would pay for it. This reminds me of some jobs where employees have to buy their own uniforms, equipment, etc. as the point I almost made.
I agree; I guess my personal point is that I don't remotely care about anything as much as I do the ability to wfh. After that is salary, after that is other comp. Offer me a fully-remote job at an acceptable salary and you've got me very interested. In contrast I've flat out turned down recruiters, including FAANG, when I asked about remote opportunities and they say they maybe will do a hybrid model in the future.
At the end of the day if I'm making a good salary and can work wherever I want to in the US/world, nothing else matters to me too much.
Same scenario but smaller scale: an individual purchases a domestic property with the purpose of renting it out as accommodation. Due to unforeseen circumstances the area becomes undesirable and they become unable to rent the property, what happens?
They go underwater on the mortgage. The landlord doesn’t get bailed out, they have the property foreclosed on by the lender who goes to recoup some of _their_ investment.
Why should office landlords be treated preferably in this case? This is the risk involved in being a landlord; It’s not a guaranteed money spinner.
Is anyone seriously expecting us to pity lendlords?
IIRC, what do they call the primary cause of recessions? OXPC - Over eXpansion of Productive Capacity
In residential real-estate, which is more inelastic, it makes intuitive sense that supply (inventory) and demand (occupancy + influx - outflux) moves prices more vigorously; look at SF and NYC.
We need to stop privatizing gains and socializing losses.
Nobody here is advocating this. The article is about measuring how the costs and benefits could get allocated in various scenarios.
The building owners built the buildings to suit the demand of their tenants.
The office tenant is paying someone else to take care of the details of managing real estate, which is a task requiring real managerial skill and should be compensated. The tenant is willing to pay for this because they do not want to spend time and resources dealing with it themselves, their time is worth more doing something else.
So who should pay?
The property owner/manager? They are wholly dependent on the commercial real estate industry for their profit.
The tenant who was previously dependent on property owner/manager to provide space?
Is the tech industry to blame for making WFH a viable alternative, should tech share in the cost?
Should the pensioner invested in corporate bonds fairly take a haircut?
EDIT: Not arguing your point, but there is some nuance that should be brought to light.
If I'm the building owner, i probably debt financed the building, and I'm taking on the risk that i can get enough cash flow from tenants to pay my mortgage.
If I'm the mortgage holder (this is my basic understanding) I've turned rue mortgage into some kind of security and sold that to an investor who is taking on the risk that the property owner will pay the mortgage. And there may be shareholders or other parties taking on the risk that whoever owns the securities will remain solvent and pay their pension or whatever.
So it's not super obvious where and how the buck should stop. I own an condo that I rent out. Guaranteed I am in the hook for it - i have no recourse for a tenant that doesnt pay other that maybe an eventual eviction, and the bank will make me sell it if I dont pay my mortgage. I'm the weakest point in the chain above, and that's why I'll have to be responsible. I suppose in exchange for that I'm exposed to more upside than the bank or the bondholders. But it's not clear to me that I'm the one beneficiary who should bear all the risk.
The fact remains we should not socialize losses.
Insurance and reinsurance exist.
"Insurance" in the financial market is hedging.
Do they? I've always found connotation to be an intimate and flexible concept, and serves as a limiting factor for true communication. Wittgenstein agrees, I think :)
I can pay a hedge fund to hedge my risk.
https://www.pbgc.gov/ as an example, but a bad one since it (to my understanding) socializing pension fund default.
>” A market correction would probably slap [banks] in the face without knocking them out. Instead, more of the bill will fall on equity holders, not least pension funds and insurers which, in their hunt for returns in an era of low interest rates, have been loading up on property for years. The sooner they admit that losses are coming, the sooner they can try to limit the damage.”
So holders of that debt...
Electric, HVAC would be similar.
However, still could be possible in some buildings and ultimately be worth doing. For other properties it might be cheaper to raze and rebuild rather than try to fit residential space into a commercial-plan building.
Completely agree with other posts that the risk of loss should be squarely on the owners/investors. Property is an investment like anything else, and may lose value. And I'd guess commercial property is riskier than residential.
I have seen some instances of older 1910s to mid 1930s era office towers in NYC retrofitted to (very high end, very expensive) condos.