Is it though?

Is it though?

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The back-to-office backfire: Companies ending WFH perks lose out on top talent, who view flexible work as equivalent to an 8% raise

Ahh, yes. The “top talent.” I think every staffing agency on the planet still uses that phrase. Is this true, however? Is it true that RTO has backfired and now said companies are facing a dearth of “top talent” workers?

Forcing workers back to the office is slowly backfiring for employers as the tightening labor market increasingly values remote work as a key benefit.

-Business Insider, Ibid.

🤔 uh, wut? This article was published on August 6, 2023 at 7:02 AM and I’m sitting here looking around like, “Where is this now? A tightening labor market right now? What the what?”


In spite of the bizarre, conflicting narratives you’ve heard in the MSM about this rrrrresilient economy and rrrrrobust labor market, naw, I don’t think so. During The Great Resignation, ghosting was a huge problem. It wasn’t necessarily difficult to get someone on the phone to have a preliminary conversation with you, but getting them past that first encounter was difficult unless you were offering something amazing. It mirrored the housing market in that way: the sellers were at a huge advantage and they’d act like if you didn’t show up with a bouquet of roses, a steak dinner, and $100K over asking price, buzz the hell off. So it was with candidates. But now? Oh, the tide is turning. Out of 10 interviews, I might have 1 or 2 people ghost, which means 80 to 90% of people are showing up and attending. Some flakey behavior is still there (as it always will be – some folks are just flakes by nature), but it’s tamped down significantly from what we saw in 2020-2022. If we really had a super low unemployment rate with two legit open jobs for every one unemployed person, would this be happening? 🤔


  • The coronavirus pandemic upended the work world and accelerated the pro-labor movement.

  • As workplaces continue bringing employees back to the office, hybrid employers have an advantage.

  • Employees see flexible workplaces as an equivalent benefit to an 8% raise, WSJ reported.

-Business Insider, Ibid.

Yes, we did have a Great Resignation. That is clear. I find it interesting that the second bullet point promotes hybrid work, not fully remote work. The third bullet point does as well because it uses the term “flexible workplaces” and not fully remote workplaces. Things that make you say, “Hmm.”


While major companies such as Amazon, Disney, JPMorgan, and even the video conferencing platform Zoom require their workers to return to the office at least part-time after the coronavirus pandemic prompted widespread adoption of work-from-home policies, employees are none too pleased.

Since COVID-19 deaths and illnesses have reduced the American workforce by approximately 500,000, The Guardian reported, and the unemployment rate nears half-century record lows of 3.5%, according to July statistics from the Labor Department, workers have the upper hand in labor negotiations.

-Business Insider, Ibid.

Got it, OK. It’s funny that even Zoom has called people back, LOL. What a world. They made all these employers feel like a basic phone call ain’t good enough anymore and then called their own folks back. Wowee. So the bottom line is that you’re supposed to believe the labor market is tight because we still, somehow, some way, have a 3.5% unemployment rate. Again, we must ask: is this even true? The proof just doesn’t seem to be in the pudding for me.

I recently watched DW’s documentary film (and recorded a podcast episode about it) called “Poverty in Britain – Why are millions of Brits so broke?” (You can find it on YouTube here: In the write-up we find:

Britain has a historically low unemployment rate of 3.6%. Yet poverty levels are breaking all records. It’s a paradoxical situation: almost 15 million Britons are considered poor these days, although there’s almost full employment. The reason: inflation and high energy costs.

Galloping inflation and a dramatic spike in energy costs in recent months are forcing millions of Britons into poverty. Wages fluctuate in an “uberized” working world of precarious employment conditions. Over the past 10 years, beginning with David Cameron, the government has scaled back its support to vulnerable members of society. The result: reduced life expectancy. Disadvantaged Britons are dying 10 years sooner than their wealthier compatriots – victims of what’s become known as the “shit life syndrome” – a life marked by poor living conditions, disease and addiction.

The documentary profiles people who have a job but can still afford nothing – from Blackpool in the west, to Ashton-under-Lyne and Cumbria, on the border with Scotland.


Yeah, it’s a paradox alright. Something fishy is goin’ on with these numbers methinks.


What does common sense tell you? In my mind, if this so-called rosy jobs report clashes with the rest of observable reality, it’s because that rosy jobs report is full of 💩. Not long ago, I watched the documentary, “Europe’s Extreme Poverty Problem | Poor Europe,” which you can find here: One of the things discussed in the film is Italy’s Garanzia Giovani program, which was supposed to help young people obtain apprenticeships and transition to full-time employment. Spoiler alert: it didn’t come together as planned. Some of the interviewees reported chronic unemployment, working without pay, and internships that went nowhere. The documentary reports that in the region of Sicily the filmmakers visited, not a single person who participated in the program actually found a job. At 17:08, a social worker is interviewed and she says, “The current government, just like all future and former governments, doctors its employment numbers.” She points out that according to official statistics, the program is working. In reality, it is not.

+ As I always say: if you wait to be “officially” told something, IMO, you are waiting too damn late.

+ “Official” numbers can be manipulated to reflect whatever the overlords want.

+ The social worker hits the nail on the head. These numbers can be and very often are doctored!


IMO, things make more sense if you assume these unemployment figures are doctored.


As the BI article points out, there have been strikes against RTO. And, as I predicted, they haven’t accomplished a full rejection of RTO. I’m sorry, they haven’t. The petition didn’t work and the strike hasn’t worked either. 🤷🏻‍♀️


Workers today put an increasing value in a flexible workplace and view hybrid work accommodations as equal to an 8% pay increase, Nicholas Bloom, a Stanford economics professor, told WSJ. And ensuring employees have a reasonable work-life balance leads to greater worker retention, increased performance, and better customer satisfaction, the outlet reported.

-Business Insider, Ibid.

Hmm. Did you notice the language there? “hybrid work accommodations” Not fully remote, mind you, but hybrid work. Yeah, it’s almost like someone should have warned you that hybrid is a stepping stone to full RTO. Wait a sec – I did!

Hybrid work, IMO, will likely be used as a stepping stone to full-on RTO. Wait and see.  published on August 23, 2022.


Research by Prithwiraj Choudhury, an associate professor at the Harvard Business School and remote work expert, found that employees who worked from home 75% of the time were the most productive, Insider previously reported.

“When you allow flexibility, it expands your talent pool,” Choudhury said, adding: “Whether the economy is contracting or expanding, the best workers always have outside options. And so I think if you as a company have a model that doesn’t give the best employees flexibility some of them — not every one of them, but some of them — will be poached by competitors.”

-Business Insider, Ibid.

This is also an interesting situation. We’re told that this research says being at home 75% of the time is the most productive, so I guess we’re supposed to think that being in the office the other 25% of the time is also ideal. 😒 I’m not convinced that the mayors who want you to “cross pollinate” downtown will find a 25% in-office rate acceptable. The commentary about top talent and how they’ll be poached is the same ole, same ole sales talk you get from any staffing agency. When you’re on the corporate side of recruiting, you see the lunacy of it better. “Oh, you better interview my candidate within 24 hours or they’ll be gone!” During The Great Resignation, maybe so. The market was insane. But now? I don’t freakin’ think so. Here’s an exhibit from a recent poster on Reddit:

Does this sound like a red hot labor market with a war over talent to you? Does it sound like there’s a whole lot of poachin’ goin’ on?


In a recent interview, Barry Sternlicht, chairman of Starwood Capital Group said that “the work from home phenomenon is a U.S. phenomenon.” He said that people are back in the office in Europe, Asia, and other parts of the world.

What’s more, Sternlicht doesn’t seem to think it’s going to last. He said that “nice buildings are still leasing,” and that a “nice little recession will clear this.”


Last week, at both the local bank and the grocery store, I observed new hires getting trained. I didn’t see all the “help wanted,” “we’re desperate,” “sign on bonus available” signs that I saw 2020-2022.

Be real with yourself here. Is the labor market still tight? Are there massive pools of “top talent” that can demand whatever they want ad infinitum? Really?

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