The End of an Era?
Newsweek US|September 16, 2022
Companies are pushing for a post-pandemic return to the office. But it may not be possible to put the remote-work genie back in the bottle
JALEN SMALL
The End of an Era?

DURING THE MORE THAN TWO YEARS that the COVID-19 pandemic blanketed the U.S. economic landscape, millions of workers were able to work in remote or hybrid arrangements. But now, as the COVID pall has lifted, some Fortune 100 companies including Apple, Disney, and Tesla-are expecting their employees to work more days in the office, starting as soon as this month.

The anticipated shift toward more in-person work is creating controversy in corporate boardrooms, with company executives debating the value and effect of the remote and hybrid models that have become the norm over the past two-and-a-half years.

In the coming weeks and months, employers and their employees will have to make decisions that will have significant implications on the future of work, says Roger Martin, business analyst and former dean of the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto. "You had this great, natural experiment, where everybody had to work from home," Martin tells Newsweek. "Now a bunch of people who would have never chosen to work remotely not only got used to it, but even started to like it."

Martin sees this development as the greatest shift in the American workforce since the U.S. entered the Second World War. "My strongly held view is that things are never going back to exactly how they were," Martin says. "Firms are making a horrible mistake to force people back to work they're just begging for trouble."

The Remote Explosion

ACCORDING TO MCKINSEY & COMPANY'S American Opportunity Survey, some 92 million Americans, the equivalent of 58 percent of the workforce, have had the opportunity to work from home at least once a week in 2022, while some 35 percent have had the option to work from home five days a week.

This story is from the September 16, 2022 edition of Newsweek US.

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This story is from the September 16, 2022 edition of Newsweek US.

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