Thursday Feb 02, 2023

Inflation smacks North Bay employers, staff in office, home – North Bay Business Journal


“It’s not possible to divide your attention,” she said, adding it depends on the age of the child. “(But) there are millions of parents who have sorted it out.”

Anita Wiglesworth, vice president of programs and marketing at Luther Burbank Center, said the key to working with employees is to be flexible — especially as it pertains to ensuring staffers get adequate child care and properly reimbursed for added expenses.

“That’s our rule of thumb,” she said. “We’re still in the camp that it’s more economical to eat at home, and child care is the biggest thing to figure out.”

The survey showed 52% of parents are spending more on child care while at home, rather than the office.

Although a surprising statistic for those who assume being at home represents a large savings for parents, there’s a reason this major household expense costs more.

“People would be surprised by how expensive child care is,” Sacramento State Economics Professor and Golden State Wealth adviser Sanjay Varshney said, explaining that even when schools are closed, the demands of work among parents remains.

“During COVID, we didn’t have a choice but to work from home,” Varshney said.

Now companies are slowly deciding where they want, or will allow, their employees to be.

“As the economy reopened, companies said: ‘You know what? We need you back,’” he said.

And with 11 million U.S. positions available, yet only 6 million people actively looking for work, an employee-dominant job market still exists. But the economist predicts that dominance will start shifting to the employer soon, as inflation morphs into a recession. Whether mild or not, he believes that will mean layoffs, which will balance out those numbers.

That’s when Varshney is convinced employers will flex their clout muscles and start demanding employees return in greater numbers, if at all.

“Right now, employers are treading water carefully (with their employees),” he said.

Almost half the employees surveyed in the poll conducted by Pollfish, said they’re working a hybrid model, meaning working in the office and at home. The other half is nearly split by home or in-office working arrangements.

Some companies such as Ag Innovations sublet the space to other firms, a trend becoming more prominent as companies lean into the idea of either giving up their leases or bringing in their workforces.

Steve Easley, senior director of San Rafael-based Meridian Commercial Real Estate, estimates only a third of companies have returned full-time to the office.

“Much of the market is in a downsizing mode,” Easley said.

Most North Bay commercial real estate brokers agree that firms will not opt to break their leases. They’d rather renew and decide about how to occupy the space later, according to Ken Meyersieck, managing director and San Francisco market leader of Transwestern Real Estate Services, a Houston-based developer.

“This question is one every employer is being asked,” said Meyersieck, who said he has seen “a significant drop” in office occupancy. “I think where we’ll end up is somewhere in between.”

Some companies that do renew their leases are asking for shorter terms.

“It’s a mixed bag and something all of us in the industry are trying to sort out. We’re seeing one- to two-year renewals,” said Haden Ongaro, managing director of Newmark, a commercial real estate brokerage …….


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