Brett White, the CEO of Cushman & Wakefield, in a recent interview, said that he believes the remote workforce size had chances of doubling after the coronavirus pandemic. According to him, as much as 10% of the workforce in the U.S. could be permanently working from home.
This comment by White was made just after it was reported by Cushman & Wakefield that there was an 18% year over year decline in the quarterly revenues. This was witnessed mainly because of the coronavirus pandemic disrupting activities related to real estate brokerage. Moreover, they accounted that their Net Income came in at a loss of $100.8 million, compared to their profits in the year-ago quarter which was of $6.3 million.
Brett White said, “If right now roughly 4.5%, 5% of the workforce is permanently at home …. pre-Covid, we think that will double. We think as much as 10%, 11% of the workforce could be at home permanently.”
However, White also added that ultimately it is possible that the vast majority of workers would return to the office setup. He particularly stressed that the said projections are far from the present setting, where a considerable share of the workforce has been remote since mid of March. He said, “10% is a lot less than 90%, and 90% are going to be in offices in one form or another.”
Remote Working Increased After Coronavirus
Cushman and Wakefield, who made these projections, is a global commercial real estate firm. Brett White is not just the CEO of the firm but also its chairman as well as a commercial real estate veteran who led CBRE from 2005 to 2012.
There are long term economic changes presented in by the coronavirus pandemic and their implications remain uncertain as of now. White also expects that the US office market might take around two to three years to recover along with seeing this pain to be just the beginning. The real estate firm has estimated that U.S. office vacancies could rise up to as high as 15% to 18% in the next 24 to 30 months, he said, also indicating a decline of rent between 5% and 15%.
White also mentions that although companies in US have proceeded to welcome their workers back to the office, but the return has been slower than expected by many. He points out that the cause that is driving this trend is the fear among the employees about contracting this disease that is COVID-19. Employees are “voting with their feet,” said White. “They don’t feel safe, and they also don’t feel it’s worth the hassle because they’re not required to go to work.”
He said “You look around the country … most office businesses are open in one form or another”. Most of them have said, ‘We’ll take back 20%, 30% of our employees’, and yet you walk into the office and there’s half a dozen people in there.”
Several companies now, in an attempt to reduce the transmission of the virus, have proved to have rapidly and successfully turn to remote operations. The future of work, hence, has also been called into question. Companies like Twitter and Square have already told most of their employees that they can work from home “forever” if they want. Here, it is notable that both of these companies have Jack Dorsey as chief executive.
Remote Workers Are Increasing
Other technology firms such as Alphabet, Google’s parent and Facebook have also extended their work-from-home prospectus through June 2020. Although, on one hand, Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook, has previously said he could see about 50% of its employees being remote in the next five to ten years. However, on the other hand, the social media giant also sealed a huge lease for a new office space in Manhattan earlier this week, mainly indicating that the remote-work question is much more multidimensional.
The real estate firm, in its survey of more than 100 companies around the world, also found that 90% of people indicated they wanted to get back to the office. Therefore, the feelings of fear of contracting the disease are likely to change with improvement in the coronavirus situation.
Another very important question that would determine the time people head back to their offices is the availability of child care. “Until we have our schools open again, this is a major constraint to back to work”, White stated. He also further expressed that questions about productivity made it unlikely that most people would work remotely.
“One thing that’s very interesting to me right now is we are seeing a direct correlation between revenue production in businesses and those geographies that are open with people in the offices and those that aren’t. In the early days, we talked about the high productivity at home. That’s changing, and so I think everyone is going to feel this need to solve these issues” White claimed, additionally.