More major employers in the tech industry and beyond are reconsidering how employees need to operate and how much in-person face time is needed to be successful. For instance, this week, Microsoft announced a plan to allow employees to work remotely less than half their work hours once a return to the office is safe. Employees who want to work from home full-time or from a new location can do so with the approval of their manager (and with a possible adjustment in pay, if moving to a location with lower costs of living).
But what does this mean for the economy? A lot, really. Here are just a few effects:
- a realignment of commercial real estate as businesses figure out how much space they really need to operate
- some migration away from areas with a high cost of living, to the beach location they’ve always dreamed about, closer to family members, or from home to an RV as they travel
- wider spread existence of home offices, as more people look for housing with dedicated space for a home office or undertake a renovation to make that happen, especially among those using dining rooms and other common areas as temporary workspaces
- expanded need for high-quality office furniture as remote workers move away from temporary set-ups at the dining room table or with a laptop on the couch
- more home gardening, home cooking, and related projects, as lunch breaks are increasingly spent tending a garden or getting dinner started
- less commuting, reducing less wear-and-tear on cars and convincing some families to give up a second car, leading to changes in the light vehicle industry
- fewer meals eaten away from home, as workhours are spent just steps from the kitchen.
Some of these trends started during 2020, but if work-from-home becomes more widely seen as permanent, more workers will make purchases and lifestyle changes to make that new reality more comfortable and more fulfilling.
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research and Packaged Facts’ off-the-shelf research concentrating on food/beverage, pets, financial, and other areas. Freedonia also offers an expanding catalog of COVID-19 Economic Impact reports, which highlight how various industries are responding to the current crisis with a comparison to recent recessions. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.