Millions of Americans are working remotely for the first time, as the COVID-19 pandemic made traditional office work unsafe. But what happens next? Will Americans return to their offices in a post-pandemic world, or will the work-from-home trend continue? In this Nov. 17 Fool Live video clip, two experts from The Motley Fool's real estate brand -- Millionacres real estate analyst Matt Frankel, CFP, and Millionacres editor Deidre Woollard -- discuss why offices could indeed be permanently different, but won't completely disappear.
10 stocks we like better than Walmart
When investing geniuses David and Tom Gardner have an investing tip, it can pay to listen. After all, the newsletter they have run for over a decade, Motley Fool Stock Advisor, has tripled the market.*
David and Tom just revealed what they believe are the ten best stocks for investors to buy right now... and Walmart wasn't one of them! That's right -- they think these 10 stocks are even better buys.
Stock Advisor returns as of 2/1/20
Deidre Woollard: We also have this question from FoolOnACornfield: what percentage of Americans are white collar office workers? Because makes a good point that work-from-home isn't going to affect a lot of workers. That's certainly one of the things some people have had the option to work from home or been required to work from home and some people haven't had that option. Also I think the other thing is, like you mentioned, I think it really varies by urban versus suburban because in New York a lot of people aren't going back. I think the same is more so true in large urban cities. I think in smaller cities it tends to be more equal. I think there are more, maybe it depends on the state too, because different states have very different attitudes about how much people should be out. That tends to trickle down into all aspects of life.
Matt Frankel: I live in essentially one of the reopening capitals of America down here. We had very different attitude toward the pandemic, as a whole, not me personally, than places like New York City. But like I mentioned before, just 56 percent of the workforce, according to a recent survey, I don't want to say white collar, blue collar, but 56 percent of the U.S. workforce could potentially work from home or do their jobs from home according to the study. Only a little less than four percent currently, before the pandemic, little less than four percent work at least half-time from home. That's a 52 percent gap of people who could transition to at least some level of hybrid work. Now, like you said, in cities I think it excuse more toward people who could work from home. I would have to think fewer people in rural areas could do their jobs from home compared to people in major cities. But I'd say generally a little more than half of the American workforce could work from home that wasn't already before the pandemic. The same studies they estimated that 25-30 percent of people would work at least some of the time from home when this is all done. Take that one for what you will. No one has a crystal ball, especially Deidre and myself, that can predict the future. I don't even know how many people are going to be working at Fool HQ after this and that's the company that we work for. What their policies are going to be? There are millions of workers who don't know what they're going to be doing. Which is really the point here that we don't know what it's going to look after this. Could more than half of the American workforce work from home? Sure. Will they? I don't know?
Deidre Woollard: What are the things that they just think about that too is, at The Fool, we've been having conversations about it and there's been a lot of surveys that have come out. We have a combination of what people want versus what makes sense. I think a lot of companies are having conversations like that. It becomes this sort of evolving and fluid conversation where you're looking at health data. You're looking at what your city or state are doing, then you're asking your workers, what do they want. Especially if you're located somewhere where rent happens to be really expensive like in San Francisco, then are you offering your workers that flexibility? Does that then become something for recruiting and retention?
Matt Frankel: According to that Slack (NYSE: WORK) survey, the overwhelming top choice was a hybrid model. Meaning, you can want the option for somewhere physical to go or to stay home. That was almost three-quarters of the respondents who wanted something like that. But like you said, it's a cost benefit analysis from an employers' point of view. Especially if you're talking about a high-cost market like San Francisco or Northern Virginia, where Fool HQ is. Let's be honest, that's not a cheap market. There's a reason that people live in Columbia, South Carolina where I am and cheap cost of living is a big part of it. So it's going to be interesting. Like you said, a lot of companies are having internal conversations right now and weighing what employees want versus what's practical. So we'll have to see how it works out and the stock market hates uncertainty. This is one big point to take away from this. The stock market hates uncertainty. In the office real estate market, there is a lot of uncertainty right now. Deidre and I don't know what the office landscape is going to look like in 2021 and 2022. That's a lot of the point here. That's a lot of what you're seeing priced into these stocks. Certainty will make stocks go up 99 percent of the time. If you get a certain answer OK, 80 percent of the workforce is going to go back to the office in 2021. That would make these stocks soar, but we don't know that. That's what you're seeing priced into a lot of these stocks. If you want to bargain hunt in the stock market, do it where there is uncertainty.