COVID-19 infection, hospitalization, and death updates no longer dominate the news. The wave of infections from the Omicron variant has ebbed.
CDC and state and local governments and health departments are loosening COVID restrictions, including requirements to wear a mask or to verify vaccine status when entering indoor spaces such as restaurants, offices, retail stores, and event spaces.
A growing number of companies are again announcing return dates in March and April, calling workers back at least one or two days per week.
So everyone is headed back to the office, right? Maybe…
But now we’re seeing gas prices rising dramatically, particularly as the Biden Administration today announced an import ban on Russian oil:
- This could make commuting a lot more expensive, leading workers to push back on the return to offices as gas prices rise and transportation accounts for a larger share of household budgets.
- There could be a social movement or other type of interest in making sure fuel resources are allocated for emergency vehicles, public mass transit, and for the transportation of needed goods throughout the country and locally.
Still, businesses that rely on workers returning to the offices are investing in innovations and new ways to market to these workers. For instance, Sweetgreen, a company that has traditionally had lunchtime and away-from-home workers as its target customers, is rapidly expanding its Outpost program again. The company is now up to 500 Outpost locations (spots in office buildings, hospitals, and other places where customers can pick up remote orders without going to a restaurant or incurring delivery costs), with 17 more opening this week.
Freedonia analysts will continue to watch corporate return-to-office plans and companies making moves to seize potential opportunities involving office workers, the flex workers, and the remote workers.
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.