Well, it finally happened last week. What we all knew was coming finally became official: the 2020 HR Technology Conference & Exposition® will not be an in-person event. Instead, it will become a free virtual event held from Oct. 27–30.
Just one more feather in the ol’ remote-only cap… But virtual life can do some good.
Think about this: Barclays, JPMorgan Chase, and Morgan Stanley are all reconsidering whether their employees should return to their New York City offices. That’s not to mention big tech making other big moves. These banks, according to Boston.com, have been “a pillar of the city’s economy, with more than 20,000 employees. Collectively, they lease more than 10 million square feet in New York — roughly all the office space in downtown Nashville, Tennessee.”
JPMorgan Chase alone recorded $8.5 billion on operating leases in 2019, according to their 10-K. Can you imagine freeing up that much money to devote to other projects? REI, for example, is considering diverting funds from their new Seattle HQ to invest in clean energy.
This is indeed a major moment.
Last week Yahoo! Finance interviewed Adam Ozimek, Upwork’s Chief Economist, on how remote work will affect the broader economy. He explained the benefits of large-scale shifts in remote work arrangements. It’s a “major macroeconomic story.”
Remote work could “spread opportunity across the US. Right now in order to work in some occupations at the top of your field you basically have to move to one of a handful of superstar cities. In these superstar cities you’re paying massive, massive house prices. So, even though you’re getting higher pay, a lot of that is going to landowners … It leaves a lot of parts of the country behind. Remote work will disconnect opportunity to where you want to live to some extent, and that is really great news for the rest of the country.”
If you think about it, the pros are that employees can live anywhere they want — maybe closer to family, in a cooler climate (like not in Texas), or in cheaper real estate prices.
Housing data bears out Ozimek’s insight. Both Zillow and Redfin report increased YOY prices for houses around the country as workers reconsider the proximity to their offices, with Zillow calling it a “tight housing market” with “no bargains in sight.”
However, there are things we all miss about working in the office — the chit chat, sports scores, and serendipitous meetings in the hallways, as well as tax revenues and businesses that thrive because of nearby corporations. This week’s Economist magazine even mentioned the decline and fall of the office romance.
Even at HR Tech… We’ll miss the awesomeness of the Exhibitor Lounge. The Starr Conspiracy has sponsored the lounge for the past few years, and it’s always a good time. If you joined us there, you’ve enjoyed a free drink or three, a Rice Krispies Treat, a couch to rest your feet, a plug to recharge your phone, a Ms. Pac-Man game, and lots of laughs and great conversations. Our marketing guru, the mighty Joe Galvan, makes all that possible with his creativity, hospitality, and heart.
As with all major shifts, there are pros and cons. Let us know what you think about your organization — or your city — going fully remote.
That’s all we got for this week’s Studio podcast. We’ll see you next week right here.