By Peter Morici
Employers that insist workers return to the desk five or even four days a week are facing tough resistance.
When Goldman Sachs /zigman2/quotes/209237603/composite GS +1.61% CEO David Solomon ordered his bankers to their desks full time, just 505 of his base employees showed up . Subsequently, young bankers were threatening to quit and otherwise complaining on message boards.
Other investment bankers have taken a hard line only to face blowback too.
The carrot and the stick
Google /zigman2/quotes/205453964/composite GOOG -0.22% has softened the stick a bit by treating employees to rock concerts, but it’s cutting salaries for those who wish to permanently work remotely or transfer to offices at less costly locations.
The message is clear: Work away from the office to dead-end your career.
These firms offer exceptional pay and across all white-collar employers, policies appear to be more flexible. Hybrid work or work-from-home is important to prospective employees , and it’s a seller’s market .
According to Kastle , office occupancy has stalled and is a bit less than 45%. In New York where Eric Adams like other big-city mayors hoped for a revival in restaurant lunch trade, sales taxes and the like, the figure has flatlined below 50%.
For decades, commuters have had to put up with long drives, expensive parking and terribly crowded and often unsafe public transit. High rents and poor public schools make city dwelling an unattractive alternative.
When the pandemic arrived, Zoom /zigman2/quotes/211319643/composite ZM -2.73% and its competitors were relatively new and awkward. However, innovations like Alphabet’s Starline offer prospects for simulating real presence and a more personable interactive experience .
Already, technology and a tight job market are threatening to make dinosaurs of bosses who must physically oversee their employees—as opposed to merely evaluating their work products.
The professional employee matchmaker Ladders reports over the past year the share of jobs that can be done remotely has risen from 18% to 25% . And the likes of Goldman Sachs and Google may need new CEOs more than threats, bread and circuses to attract and keep top talent .
Young people have been interacting remotely most of their lives. Videogames as social spaces, texting and before the pandemic, blended learning at universities that combined classroom and remote instruction were coming into play.
The shutdowns of 2020 and 2021 may have pushed distance learning to unproductive extremes but the positive trend line for relying more on instruction online as opposed to in classrooms has shifted upward .
It’s a natural extension of what faculty have been doing for decades—coming to school for classes, office hours and meetings and seminars but otherwise often working from home or further away.
Academics never bought into bonding at water coolers. Our most important colleagues are counterparts in the same subdisciplines at other universities and consulting clients, and we communicated quite effectively before email and zoom with telephones and conference calls.