COVID WAR KEEPING WORKERS OUT OF THE OFFICE

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The Hearst Corporation owns newspapers and magazines as well as TV stations and channels. Its magazine division publishes, among other titles, Esquire, Car and Driver, Cosmopolitan, Popular Mechanics and Good Housekeeping and employs some 550 persons, of whom 450 are represented by the Writers Guild of America, East.

Like so many who would normally perform their work in office buildings, most of Hearst's magazine workers have been working from home for most of the duration of the COVID War. Now the company wants to phase them back into returning to their offices, and the employees are resisting.

The New York Times reports that Hearst's plan, to begin 15 November, is to require workers to come in once a week for two weeks, then two days per week until early 2022, and eventually three days per week; Hearst is also requiring all employees to be vaccinated.

TRENDPOST: Hearst is not alone, nor is it the first; see "CEOs TO WORKERS: BACK TO THE OFFICE - NOW" (27 Jul 2021). Nor are Hearst's employees the first to bristle at the orders to return; see "BACK TO WORK TRENDS DOWN" (22 Jun 2021).

Some 300 of the employees have signed a petition calling for the plan to be scuttled, and their union (which they voted to join in 2020) has filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board alleging unfair labor practices. The workers claim that they've adjusted to working from home with no loss in productivity, and asked the company for a more flexible arrangement, which the company rejected.

Most reasons for preferring to continue working remotely involved having better things to do than submit to the time and stress of commuting, including enjoying an extra hour of sleep. 

TRENDPOST: Besides writing about the "work-from-home" phenomenon in general—see "REMOTE WORK BECOMES TECH SECTOR'S NEW NORMAL" (1 Dec 2020), "REMOTE WORK SPAWNS NEW INDUSTRIES" (13 Jul 2021) and "AMERICANS: RATHER WORK AT HOME AND EARN LESS" (10 Aug 2021)—Trends Journal has explored its impact on the commercial real estate market; see "COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE CRASH?" (13 Jul 2021), "WILL DELTA VARIANT KILL COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE?" (3 Aug 2021) and "WORKERS STAYING HOME: COMMERCIAL REAL ESTATE DISASTER LOOMING" (19 Oct 2021).

TREND FORECAST: Trends Journal sees no reason to alter its long-standing forecast that the centralized-office lifestyle and economy is unlikely to return any time soon to its pre-COVID state. 

Fewer office workers will put pressure on city real estate; not only will office space be in less demand, but fewer workers means fewer cafes and restaurants serving them lunch and fewer barbershops, salons, florists, boutiques and other businesses catering to them. 

The fallout will include plummeting property values, negatively impacting—even crashing!—city budgets; before 2020, 40 percent of New York City's revenue, for example, came from property taxes.

TREND FORECAST: As we have greatly detailed, go back to when the COVID War began in 2020. We had forecast office occupancy rates would experience a deep, long decline. 

However, we were ignored by the business media that refused to report our trend forecasts. Instead, the bullshit they were selling was that if everyone obeyed the political dictators, stayed home and locked down, we’d “Flatten the Curve,” and everyone would live happily ever after.

Back then, even as the COVID War ramped up, they sold the line that after Labor Day, it “It’ll come back,” and everyone would go back to the office again.

That didn’t happen back then, yet going back to work was again supposed to happen after Labor Day 2021.

Failed again! Last week, the Partnership for New York City reported that just 28 percent of Manhattan office workers had returned to their desks as of late October, and just 8 percent were back five days a week. 

And as for the New ABnormal that we had long forecast, a whopping 80 percent of employers said they expected a remote work policy to be permanent, and as we warned, a third believe they would need less office space in the next five years.


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