This is Future of the Office week at CEO Daily. After Monday’s conversation with the co-CEOs of Gensler, I talked yesterday with Matthew Lock and Simon Pole, founder and global design director of Unispace. Like the Gensler gang, they are working with companies to reimagine the workplace for the post-COVID world. “There is dramatically increased market activity, rethinking space, rethinking everything,” says Lock. “Anyone who is taking space or looking at a lease expiration is looking at a major redesign.”
Pole says that while work-from-home fatigue is setting in, the “cat is out of the bag on choice and flexibility. It’s going to be demanded.” Unispace predicts the percentage of office workers who want to work from home at least three days a week will settle at around 40% in January of 2022. That’s up from pre-pandemic levels of 21% in Europe, 19% in APAC and 12% in the U.S. And with much of the “focus” work being done at home, the new office will increasingly be a place for “collaboration,” “social,” and “learning.”
One challenge they foresee is creating ways for people at home and office to work together. “There is a lot of trepidation around managing distributed teams,” said Pole. “Managers were happy when everyone was in the office, they were happy when everyone was home. But in two places at once is difficult.” The firm is creating what they call video “wormholes” to better connect workers at the office with those elsewhere.
Meanwhile, since it’s Friday, some feedback:
BW wrote in to ask about the Deloitte survey: “Who are the 2% of CFOs who believe the stock markets are undervalued? I want to make sure I don’t own those stocks.”
JN wrote: “I keep seeing (your) writings about the importance of stakeholder capitalism. But nothing concrete is happening besides loud statements.” He proposes companies commit to giving shares worth 1% of their market value to employees each year.
And RG wrote: “By themselves, America’s largest companies cannot solve the burning issues of today. BUT they can innovate within their ecosystem, they can impact their communities, and they can influence the federal government to move in the best interests of the country and the globe.”
More news below. And kudos to PwC U.S. for its unusual disclosure of diversity statistics to its employees and the public. This should become the norm. What gets measured gets managed.
Laura wreaks havoc
Hurricane Laura has weakened, but the super storm is still wreaking chaos—including unleashing tornadoes hundreds of miles inland—as it turns towards the Eastern Seaboard this weekend. The storm became a tropical depression late Thursday, but was one of the strongest hurricanes to ever hit Texas, and has so far caused at least six deaths. Associated Press
Japan's longest-serving prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said he would resign Friday for health reaons. The Japanese leader recently visited a Tokyo hospital and has long suffered from an autoimmune condition. It's not yet clear who will be his successor. WSJ
Fed puts heat on ECB
The Fed's decision, revealed on Thursday, to aim for periods of inflation averaging 2% over time will now put the heat on the European Central Bank to adopt the same policy. While low inflation has long been a major concern for central banks, that seems to be shifting. Meanwhile, US jobless claims this week hovered around 1 million. Bloomberg
Teen charged in Kenosha
A teenager was charged with fatally shooting two protestors, and seriously wounding another with a semi-automatic rifle in the days following the police shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisc. Protests, meanwhile, continue over the shooting, while Blake's family says he has been left paralyzed from the waist down. Meanwhile, athletes including NBA and WNBA players were striking last night in protest. Fortune
AROUND THE WATER COOLER
Russia warns Belarus
Belorussians have taken to the street over the last two weeks to protest the country's authoritarian president Aleksandr G. Lukashenko. But now Russian president Vladimir Putin warns that he has created a "reserve of law enforcement officers" to assist the leader. It was the sharpest warning yet that Russia could step in to crush dissent—but such a move would pose risks for Russia, too. “For Putin, Belarus is an existential question," says one analyst. New York Times
Walmart's TikTok fling
Why is Walmart chasing TikTok? Fortune's Danielle Abril runs through a compelling case for buying the video-sharing app, despite its new role as a geopolitical flashpoint, and amid a power vacuum at the top now that the U.S. CEO has announced his resignation. The advantages include better understanding its young shoppers—and bolstering its digital footprint. Fortune
Canada-China vaccine fail
A vaccine partnership between the Canadian government and the Chinese company CanSino has fallen apart—according to the Canadian health department, because the supplies to develop the vaccine have been held in limbo for months by Chinese customs. The impasse is widely viewed as retaliation over Canada's arrest of Meng Wanzhou, the daughter of the founder of Huawei, in 2018 in Vancouver. Fortune
Action on democracy
A group of CEOs—and military veterans—tell Fortune that executives now have a critical job ahead of them: to support safe and fair elections, and to invest in democracy, including assisting organizations that advance voter access and work against voter suppression. "If the business community is silent while elected officials do not, in good faith, work to ensure a free and fair election, then those same officials will interpret that silence as a green light from business," they write. Fortune
This edition of CEO Daily was edited by Katherine Dunn
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