'Employees Will Ultimately Decide': COVID-19's Impact On Offices

By Christina Estes
Published: Thursday, November 12, 2020 - 3:46pm
Updated: Friday, November 13, 2020 - 8:19am

Silicon Valley Bank
Silicon Valley Bank's company headquarters are in Santa Clara, California. Their Portland, Oregon, office is pictured.

The pandemic could permanently change how and where many people work and that has some employers rethinking their workplace expectations.

Steven Jo is responsible for workforce location strategy for Silicon Valley Bank. He works in San Francisco, the company headquarters are 45 miles south in Santa Clara, and the bank has an office in Tempe, employing about a thousand people. Jo said COVID-19 will permanently change the way many bank employees work. 

“We’ve been tracking how our employees are thinking about commuting,” he said. “Over the last five months more people are saying they want to work from home or they want some flexibility. There are very few people who want to go back to the office and have that 9-to-5 schedule five days a week.”

It’s not just his colleagues. During a conference call hosted by Urban Land Institute Arizona, Jo said some of the bank’s clients have recently moved out of major markets to less dense locations offering what they see as a better quality of life. 

“The one thing I’m kind of thinking about right now is does the dialogue start to shift a little bit from the local governments and municipalities having conversations with employers to actually really creating experiences for employees because employees will ultimately decide where they’re going to be living and working from in the future,” he said.   

A survey by Upwork, a platform that connects freelancers with jobs, estimates anywhere from 14 million to 23 million Americans plan to move because they can work remotely. 

“It’s another one of those areas we have to watch because it’s in transition, I would say,” Neal Giuliano, former Tempe mayor and president and CEO of Greater Phoenix Leadership said. “So when you’re now attracting jobs, attracting jobs may no longer remain in a very traditional sense of attracting warm bodies to move to your region. It may be a combination of the warm bodies and a center and everything.”

He said the Phoenix metro area offers diverse living and employment options and “are only going to expand."


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