Uber now allows its employees to continue working in the comfort of their homes as the pandemic shows no signs of abating.
It looks like remote work will stay for some time as large firms such as Uber extends their work-from-home policies. While it is good news for most corporate employees, U.S. companies’ shift to telecommuting continues to exacerbate the office rental industry.
Uber employees to continue working at home
Dara Khosrowshahi, CEO of Uber, confirmed the extension of its work-from-home policy on Tuesday, August 4, during a meeting with his employees. The policy is said to extend the ride-hailing company’s current work setup until June next year.
Khosrowshahi, on the one hand, clarified that it is not mandated, rather voluntary. It means his employees can opt to go back to the office if offices are open before the June 2021 return date.
“As a company built on flexible working, we want to provide our team with flexibility, choice, and longer-term clarity so they can plan ahead,” Uber told the Business Insider.
Uber has also offered a US$500[AU$695] stipend to support its employees’ shift to telecommuting.
The ride-sharing service’s move places the company among the few firms—tech companies mostly—letting workers continue working at the comfort of their homes.
Google recently extended its work-from-home policy. Apple and Amazon allowed their employees to return to the office in January next year, too, while Twitter said its employees could choose remote work “forever” if they want.
Remote work threatens office space rental market
Uber, Google, Twitter, and other tech companies are not the only firms looking to leave office life for awhile. Recently, U.S. firms like Halliburton Co. and Sleep Number Corp. shared that they would move to work-from-home setup and, as part of their cost-reduction strategy, will also reduce their office space.
Such actions made by U.S. companies have threatened the office rental market. As posted by CBRE, office rental footage plunged by 21.5 million square foot, marking its lowest decline since the Great Depression.
Leasing activity in the second quarter has also dived by 44% year-over-year, with a vacancy rate of 13%.
But Morgan Stanley had predicted and warned of the situation the industry is experiencing today. Last month, he said that work-from-home policies would increase the vacancy rate for office spaces.
Green Street adviser Danny Ismail echoed Stanley’s prediction as well. He said that well-located office buildings are now threatened by companies’ “acceptance of remote work,” all because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The U.S., as of Tuesday, has recorded nearly 5 million coronavirus cases with 155, 478 deaths.