So, Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) is requiring its big workforce to return to the office this fall, albeit in a hybrid form. According to The Verge, CEO Tim Cook has sent a memo telling employees they need to be in the office on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Thursdays soon and that they can work remotely for two days a week and remotely for up to two weeks a year with manager approval.
The Verge article says that's a shift from pre-pandemic policies that discouraged teleworking at the tech giant. It also sounds like a smart move.
Poll after poll shows that a lot of people would rather work from home, given the choice. That includes one done by Morning Consult in May for Bloomberg News that showed 39% of U.S. adults would consider quitting if their employers weren't flexible about remote work. For millennials and Gen Z, it was 49%.
Absence makes the heart grow fonder…of absence
That's a far cry from a survey done in May 2020 by The Harris Poll for Glassdoor that found 72% of respondents were eager to return to their company's offices.
Assuming both polls reflect reality, that means a heck of a lot of people have gotten really used to working from home (WFH).
In fact, about half of all Americans born after 1981 consider the flexibility and attractions of working at home enough of an incentive to change jobs, or maybe even not work at all if possible. The difficulty in finding people to work in-person retail, restaurant, and hospitality jobs is also stark witness to that new reality.
Owners and managers of office space saw firsthand the havoc wreaked when COVID-19 sent nearly an entire workforce home and ground the economy to a temporary halt. Now companies are slowly reopening their offices, each in its own way, and how workers react will have a lot to say about how well that goes.
The Millionacres bottom line
Companies that require people to come into offices may have trouble hiring and therefore may need to adjust their policies. Those that don't may find themselves having trouble filling positions, forcing them to keep positions open or hire people less qualified than they had desired.
Not all jobs, obviously, can be done online. Real estate investment trust (REIT) Alexandria Real Estate Equities capitalized on that reality with its focus on life sciences.
But those situations are the exception rather than the rule. For the most part, it appears that going forward, companies with white-collar workforces that can offer a full-time or hybrid work-from-home setting are going to have a larger pool of applicants and thus a better chance of landing productive employees willing to stick around and add value to the enterprise.
That can be expected to add to the chances of sustainable success for the enterprise, which means it will need space. And that's where real estate investors and managers come in. Viable tenants make good tenants. This is a trend worth following closely, including for investors in office REITs.