Roy Gilbert

White-Collar Companies Race to Be Last to Return to the Office

White-Collar Companies Race to Be Last to Return to the Office

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Jackson Gibbs

Even as President Trump has said “we have to get our country open again,” much of corporate America is in no rush to return employees to their campuses and skyscrapers. The companies are racing not to be the first back, but the last.

An increasing number of them, which mostly have white-collar employees, have recently extended work-from-home policies far beyond the shelter-in-place timelines mandated by state and local authorities.

Google and Facebook employees were told Thursday that they could stay home until next year. Capital One informed 40,000 workers that they will be out through Labor Day and possibly longer. Amazon is saying October. Nationwide Insurance is moving more aggressively than other firms, shuttering five offices around the country and having its 4,000 employees telecommute permanently.

The moves reflect the reality that no one is sure how the coronavirus pandemic will evolve. While deaths from the virus in hot zones like New York City have come down, new outbreaks have emerged elsewhere. Almost every day, there are at least 20,000 new cases in the U.S., bringing the country’s total to more than 1.2 million.

But even after the coronavirus no longer requires it, working from home is likely to retain a significant presence in corporate life. It will affect the shape of cities and the commercial real-estate industry, and change the culture at companies that for years have been building elaborate temples for their workers.

For many companies, which started having employees work from home in March, prolonging the policy is not just […]

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