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A Recession Could Kill the Work-From-Home Revolution

6 64 13
23.06.2022

Company culture may soon resemble what bosses want, rather than what workers want—and that could mean a lot more butts in seats.

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Sometimes, a trend that seems inevitable turns out to be a fragile creature of circumstance. For example, throughout the 2010s, a fleet of consumer-tech companies took venture-capital money to provide subsidized services—including Uber and Lyft for ride-shares and DoorDash and Postmates for food delivery. As I wrote this month, these companies were beneficiaries of a low-interest-rate environment, in which investors were eager for firms with world-conquering ambitions to burn cash and grow. Then, the party ended: Interest rates rose along with nominal wages, investors demanded profits, and now an Uber from here to the end of the block costs about $100.

Recently, I’ve been wondering whether the work-from-home revolution might suffer the same fate. Clearly, the pandemic and the brisk economic recovery helped remote work in several ways. The coronavirus closed offices, and the ensuing tight labor market gave workers power to quit jobs, fight for more money, and reject the purgatorial tradition of a daily commute.

But just as the Uber-for-Everything revolution relied on a specific set of economic conditions that shifted very quickly, remote work might be similarly sensitive to brisk economic changes.

To understand where I’m going with this, we unfortunately have to talk about the U.S. economy, which is not much fun. Inflation is stubbornly clinging to a 40-year high, and nominal gas prices have set a........

© The Atlantic


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