WD Flex Recap – Just The Facts: What’s Really Happening?

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Chair Of The Month

Emma Weckerling
Emma Weckerling
Emma is the Managing Editor of Work Design Magazine.

A recap of week 1 of WD Flex: Back to the Office featuring StateBook’s Calandra Cruickshank on what the future of work holds. 

On June 30th, WDM hosted the first WD Flex: Back to the Office virtual event featuring StateBook’s Calandra Cruickshank. With Week 1 of WD Flex focused on ‘Heads of Research on What’s Really Happening Now’, Calandra kicked off her presentation sharing that she is frequently asked by her clients how we can return to work. Our day to day decisions are shaping the future of work, making it an incredibly dynamic time to be involved in the PropTech industry.

The past year has been a global work from home experiment. Check out Calandra’s full presentation below to get answers to your burning questions including: how are different organizations responding, what patterns are occurring, what are the lessons learned from the data analyst and research perspective, what the data is telling us, and more!

Follow up Q&A

Calandra kindly took the time to answer attendee questions at the end of the event. If you have any more questions, feel free to leave them in a comment below!

Q: How are the emerging variants modulating the move back to work? To what degree are companies modulating their stance? 

A: Emerging variants will absolutely modulate the ability to return to the office. We’ve already seen this occur in London and other major cities around the world that had reopened after experiencing falling COVID rates, but then had to revert to stricter measures when they were hit with a resurgence of the virus as more contagious variants emerged. Just over the weekend, global finance ministers at the G-20 raised emerging variants as a top concern impacting the global recovery. Approximately 60% of U.S. companies have yet to announce their return-to-office policies. Many companies are waiting to see whether COVID and/or variants will have a resurgence in the fall before committing to any type of ongoing policy. And, many companies that have already stated that their employees should expect to return to the office in the fall are creating contingency policies to be prepared for such a resurgence.

Q: how does uncertainty around children and vaccine timing influence this issue? 

A: Both Pfizer and Moderna are currently trialing vaccines in children in hopes of having approval to deploy them by September. If this is successful, some of the challenges working parents currently face will be lifted as children are able to return to schools, child care facilities and after-school programs. However, a survey by the USC Domsife Center conducted this past Spring indicated that many parents were still uneasy about returning their kids to school. The majority of these parents cited safety as their chief concern while academic progress and overall happiness also ranked highly. See chart below. While many of these concerns may be mitigated if children are able to get a vaccine and schools reopen, some issues may remain as people wait to see what effectiveness the vaccines have against COVID variants. Obviously, having school age children at home is a challenge for working parents, especially in cities where living quarters may be more cramped. Additionally, research from the Brookings Institute and others highlights the deeper impact COVID has had on working women, since they tend to bear the brunt of childcare responsibilities. More than three million women are estimated to have dropped out of the U.S. workforce altogether as a result of COVID.

Q: If companies allow employees to relocate, are they considering reductions in comp? (If they have left NYC for a less expensive location) 

A: Many companies are considering this issue, but most surveys indicated that so far fewer than 5% of companies have indicated that they would actually lower the salaries of employees moving to lower cost of living areas. Many companies are concerned that if they lower compensation, they will experience higher employee turnover while others are concerned that employee morale would drop if they were to suddenly get paid less than colleagues doing the same work. According to a survey by Pearl Meyer, an executive compensation consulting firm, 56.5% of 349 companies surveyed across finance, insurance, real estate, energy, utilities, tech and health care indicated that they would not decrease compensation for employees moving out of larger, high cost cities. However, another major emerging factor that companies are being forced to contend with are the tax implications of having employees live in multiple jurisdictions across the U.S. and even overseas. These costs will need to be reconciled either by employers mandating where employees can and can’t live or passing these very real costs on to employees who are firm about where they want to locate.

Q: How does a business balance the “I want to work from home” and the “my mental health has suffered” or “work/non-work time has merged and extended to long hours”?

A: Looks like the companies will provide to the employee options to allow flexible solutions to work. We will be able to work from HQs, coworking, home, etc. these changes will also be associated with another leadership style, focused on outcomes rather than on time spent at the office. Our hrs team is ready to provide the training leaders will need to better perform in this new environment?

Q: Salary is based on cost of living not just job completed – how are you using your data to supply companies?

A: StateBook provides data on wage rates for each occupation and we allow our users to compare these wage rates across every community in the U.S. We also provide cost of living data that companies can use to compare employees’ changing expenses as they relocate. For example, a computer programmer earns $99,150 per year in Raleigh, NC, where the cost of living is lower than the national average and $125,420 in San Francisco, where the overall cost of living is 50% higher than the national average. However, these comparisons are not always one-to-one. For example, chemical engineers in the Baltimore metro area earn $119,850 per year but contend with a cost of living index of 15.5% whereas chemical engineers in Midland, TX bring home $158,110 per year in a metro area where the cost of living sits below the national average by about 5%. Companies need to keep in mind that it is not only cost of living that drives what salaries employees earn. Factors like how competitive a labor market is, which StateBook can help with, and how valuable an individual employee is to the firm also can be major factors in determining salary ranges. StateBook also provides data on tax rates, which are emerging as a major factor for both companies with dispersed workforces and employees relocating.

Special Thanks to WD Flex Sponsor:

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