RTO / WFH Hopium

RTO / WFH Hopium



Print this article and save it. I am begging you. I want to see how this content ages and I predict: probably not well.

“If 2022 was the year corporate bosses planned for a mass return to offices, 2023 might usher in a new era of concessions. …

‘Onsite work requirements are being reintroduced, but employers are walking them back because employees are increasingly unwilling to comply with those requirements, and organizations are unsure or reluctant about how to enforce them, even though they’re technically in place,’ Duffy says.

Workplace experts say the state of remote, hybrid and in-person work is reaching an equilibrium point and that today’s level of RTO will probably stay put, even in the face of recession warnings.” -CNBC, Ibid.

On what basis? Using what evidence?

“So far, most hybrid policies expect workers in offices two to three times a week. The Disney requirement falls on the stricter side in that sense, even though it’s still technically a hybrid setup.

But requirements increasing in-office days are unlikely to become a norm, experts say.

‘I feel pretty confident in saying we will not see much more shift toward the office,’ says Nick Bloom, a Stanford economics professor who researches work-from-home topics.

Bloom co-authors a monthly report that captures how many people are working from home and says behaviors haven’t shifted since September, when many companies went through another post-Labor Day RTO campaign to boost in-office attendance.

In the last year, the gap between workers’ expectations of remote work and employers offering it post-pandemic has been shrinking, according to analyses from Bloom’s WFH Research team. As of January, workers say they want to work from home for 2.8 days on average, versus employers planning to allow 2.3 days remote.” -CNBC, Ibid.

So the evidence appears to be: they tried it before and didn’t always get away with it, so we should just assume it won’t stick. How confident do you feel about that?

As we get further into this bust cycle and unemployment goes up – which I believe it will, sadly – how much leverage will the average person have? Let’s get real here. 2023 is NOT 2021 or even 2022. We’re not still in the throes of The Great Resignation and I don’t think any sane person can believe that there are 2 legitimate open jobs for every 1 unemployed person.

“Employers that have been able to keep up productivity, if not thrive, during remote work will have to show a marked drop in success and tie it directly to not being in a central office, [Amanda] Armstrong says. ‘But without those proof points, it’s going to be hard to say, We need you here just to be here.'”-CNBC, Ibid.

No, it won’t be hard. Look at Lord Elon. He told everyone to RTO or else. Zuck said if people wanted to “self select” out the door it was fine. It’s not difficult at all!

“Bloom says he recently spoke with leaders at a big tech firm who said they plan to increase remote work in order to get rid of their expensive office building in San Francisco. ‘For every Elon Musk-type pushing people back to the office, there are many others increasing work from home for the cost savings and because it’s easier to recruit,’ he says.

And even Musk, who banned remote work at Twitter after taking over the company in November, reversed course when the company shut down its Seattle offices and instructed people to work from home.

Some leaders are expanding remote work to keep their workers happy with their jobs and pay, Bloom says. After all, despite loud layoffs, even major staff cuts don’t represent the relentlessly tight hiring market.” -CNBC, Ibid.

Maybe that’s true, I dunno. I am not seeing that trend day in and day out in the job market, but who knows. Maybe for every Lord Elon there are 10 other managers who prize remote work. I’m skeptical of that, but sure. What this is also not considering is the real estate market bust. Do you really think companies won’t snatch up corporate real estate on the cheap? Do you still believe we have a “relentlessly tight hiring market” in the midst of layoffs and people languishing on the market for months? Really?

Let’s re-read this sentence again: “After all, despite loud layoffs, even major staff cuts don’t represent the relentlessly tight hiring market.” Yeah . . . let’s just say it as, “Pay no attention to any evidence that doesn’t support our narrative of blazing hot labor market. Ya know, cuz The Fed wants to crash it, so we need to keep saying it’s too darn hot.” 😣

“In the last 12 months, 38% of senior business executives say they’ve expanded remote work to ‘keep employees happy and to moderate wage-growth pressures,’ and 41% say they plan to in the next year, according to a working paper co-authored by Bloom and based on data from the Atlanta Fed.” -CNBC, Ibid.

Oh, OK. As long as these executives say they plan to do it, I’m sure they will. 🤞 And as long as the data comes from The Fed, that’s cool, too.


“Employers aren’t offering as many remote jobs as people who want them. According to LinkedIn data from January 2021 to date, remote job listings on the site peaked in March 2020 with over 20% of postings offering the option, but has dropped ever since. In November, just 14% of job listings were open to remote applicants. …

It’s true that the hiring market is cooling, but [Caitlin] Duffy says taking away worker flexibility is a move in the wrong direction for the long-term. Not only could employee morale take a hit, she says, but it could dissuade star talent from applying.” -CNBC, Ibid.

Wow. This article can’t even get it together on which is which. So… is it a “relentlessly tight hiring market” or is it “true that the hiring market is cooling” already?

“‘Good organizations will capitalize on the benefits of remote work and outstrip their peers to become employers of choice on the talent market,’ she adds. ‘We’re at an inflection point, and organizations that refuse to adapt may struggle to survive long-term.’

Adds Bloom: ‘The best way to make a horrible mistake in business right now is to predict that we’ll return to the office the way we did in 2019. We are in the new normal. Now it’s more about adjustments.'” -CNBC, Ibid.

Are we in a new normal?

“The Biden administration is winding down the treatment of COVID-19 as an emergency, restructuring how the federal government will respond to the pandemic that is entering its fourth year. The administration plans to end both the national emergency and the public health emergency on May 11. The announcement came in a message to Congress about measures House Republicans are considering this week to end those emergency declarations immediately.” –https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/politics/2023/01/30/president-biden-announces-end-covid-19-emergency-declarations/11151383002/

“‘You can’t stay home in your pajamas all day!’: NYC Mayor Eric Adams says workers must get back to the office because work-from-home policies aren’t economically sustainable for the Big Apple and New Yorkers need to ‘cross-pollinate ideas and interact'” –https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-10547661/NYC-Mayor-Eric-Adams-says-workers-return-office-work-home-unsustainable.html

Yet you are supposed to believe hopium and sunshine and lollipops about WFH. I can’t tell you what to do, but if it were me, I would tune out the “experts” who assure you that RTO is not gonna spread too wide and we won’t revisit 2019. I would have an RTO Survival Plan ready to go.

1 Comment
  • Pingback:Causey Consulting, LLC | “Eye-popping jobs report”
    Posted at 13:45h, 10 February Reply

    […] wouldn’t personally bet on a soft landing for all this, just as I wouldn’t bet that remote work is here to stay for everyone across the board. IMO, this is more hopium being given to the unwashed masses as if to say, “Hush little baby. […]

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