The Rebellion Against The Return To The Office Is Getting Serious
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The Rebellion Against The Return To The Office Is Getting Serious

Companies requiring in-person work are facing pushback. Those with looser policies find that flexibility makes recruitment easier.

By KATHERINE BINDLEY
Tue, May 17, 2022Grey Clock 6 min

Some of the economy’s most in-demand employees are about to find out how much power they have over where and how they work.

After months of return-to-work starts and stops, many tech companies, including Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Apple Inc. and Microsoft Corp., are telling remote workers it’s finally time to come back for good, or at least show up part of the week. Employees who fled the Bay Area and other high-cost tech hubs earlier in the Covid-19 pandemic—or who just prefer to work from home—now face hard choices: move back, try the super commute, or hold out for a concession or new job elsewhere.

How the emerging power struggles play out will be a telling indicator of how much leverage remote-work converts in other sectors have as more employers call staff back to offices. A competitive job market, plus the relative ease with which businesses adjusted to work-from-home over the past two years, has emboldened many professionals to try to say goodbye to offices permanently.

Two-thirds of the workforce said they would find a new job if required to return to the office full-time, according to a survey of more than 32,000 workers by ADP Research Institute. Of those who quit their jobs in 2021, 35% cited wanting to move to a different area, according to the Pew Research Center.

If highly skilled tech workers have trouble flexing their market value, though, it’s likely many other remote workers wanting to stay put will, too.

Some tech professionals have already thrown down the gauntlet. Ian Goodfellow, a director of machine learning at Apple, announced to staff this month that he was resigning, in part because of the company’s return-to-office policy. “I believe strongly that more flexibility would have been the best policy for my team,” Mr. Goodfellow wrote in a goodbye note, according to a tweet from a reporter from the Verge. Mr. Goodfellow declined to comment. Apple didn’t comment.

A group called Apple Together says more than 1,400 current and former employees signed an open letter to company executives asking for them to reconsider the office-return policy, which requires employees to work in-person on Mondays, Tuesdays and Thursdays as of last month. Apple employs more than 165,000 people.

“Stop treating us like school kids who need to be told when to be where and what homework to do,” the letter reads.

Office mandates are proving to be recruiting opportunities for some competitors: Airbnb Inc. last month announced employees could work from anywhere without taking a pay cut. In the three days following the announcement, the company’s careers page received around 800,000 visitors, according to a spokeswoman. Twitter Inc. and Zillow Group Inc. have said most employees can work from wherever they want and executives of Facebook parent Meta Platforms Inc. are living all over.

Sean Regan, head of product marketing with software maker Atlassian Corp., moved to Lake Tahoe from the Bay Area this past November and is now using the company’s flexible work policies to lure new hires.

“My access to top talent has gone through the roof,” he says. “It takes me half the time to recruit great people when I tell them they can work anywhere.”

Mr. Regan says he’s currently trying to sign on someone he ran into while skiing who had also moved to Lake Tahoe from the San Francisco area. “She wants to stay in Tahoe. Her employer wants her to go back to the office,” he says. “I’m recruiting her to stay put and work for us.”

Workers in tech have long had the advantage: Their skills are highly sought-after in nearly every industry. As the pandemic has dragged on, flexibility started to become not a perk but something companies needed to offer in order to hang on to talent. Eager to stay competitive, companies have increasingly accommodated their workers and in some cases, walked back in-office requirements.

But there are signs the balance of power may shift. Netflix Inc., Lyft Inc. and other big names in tech have posted disappointing quarterly results—a signal that leaner times may be ahead, and skilled workers won’t be in such demand. Companies including Meta say they are slowing down hiring. Peloton Interactive Inc., Carvana Co. and others have announced layoffs.

Some of those called back have found jobs elsewhere. Christina Patterson, 30, was managing client partnerships for a clothing-rental startup. She says that by the time she got called back to her New York office in March, she had grown allergic to in-person work. Since the fall of 2020, she had been working for months at a time from Tulum, Mexico, and wasn’t ready to give it up.

Desperate to find a new role ahead of the March deadline to return to work, Ms. Patterson texted an executive she’s friendly with at a Chicago-based startup, offering to be her remote assistant. “She was like, ‘I’ll do you one better: We need someone in business development,’ ” Ms. Patterson says.

She took the role at the startup, Swaypay, which makes an app for consumers to earn cash for posting TikTok videos featuring recent purchases. The new job didn’t require a move or any commitment to come into the office. Her last day at the old job was the Friday before she was supposed to go back to her old office.

“I was like, ‘Phew, I missed that very narrowly,’ ” she says.

Adam Ozimek, an economist with the think tank Economic Innovation Group, estimates that, across the U.S. workforce, there have already been 4.9 million relocations as a result of remote work, according to data extrapolated from a survey of 23,000 workers. Mr. Omizek conducted the survey this past November, while working at another company. More than a quarter said they planned to move more than 4 hours from their current job in 2022—because of remote-work options, while 13% said they were looking at moving 2 to 4 hours away. Mr. Ozimek himself says he recently started commuting 2½ hours once a month from central Pennsylvania to Washington, D.C., where his job with EIG, which he joined in March, is located.

Some tech workers who have relocated and don’t have permission to stay remote say they’re in a standoff with HR: They’ve been called back to the office but haven’t moved yet. They’re looking for remote-friendly roles both internally or elsewhere.

“If the time comes where they say: ‘Here’s an ultimatum, you show up in an office or you find somewhere else to work,’ I will find somewhere else to work because there are a lot of remote opportunities,” says one engineer who works for a North Carolina bank and bought a house earlier this year in New York’s Catskill Mountains, where he plans to stay.

Despite some signs of a downturn for the industry, tech workers who want to stay remote will have options if their employers won’t accommodate them, says Tim Herbert, chief research officer for CompTIA, a tech trade association. The number of U.S. employers posting tech jobs hit a record level last month, despite initial rumblings of a downturn.

“Especially in tech, you have companies that are simultaneously either slowing or transitioning workers or sometimes laying off workers in one area of the company and then they’re hiring in another area,” he says.

Companies with disappointing earnings can always scale back signing bonuses but continue to offer remote work as a perk for new hires, he added.

Google recently called its workers back on a hybrid schedule that requires most to be in the office three days a week. Some employees have complained that because the policy is implemented based largely on local managers’ discretion, it can feel arbitrary. “If you have a friendly manager and a friendly VP who support you, then your odds are pretty good,” says Andrew Gainer-Dewar, a senior engineer and member of the Alphabet Workers Union. “If you don’t, then things get tough.”

More than 14,000 of Google’s approximately 166,000 employees have requested to go fully remote or to transfer to a new location, and the company has approved 85% of those requests, according to a spokeswoman. “We know our employees have many choices about where they work,” she said. “So we continue to provide top of market compensation.”

Until August, Laura de Vesine was a senior engineer for Google living in San Jose, Calif., near the company’s offices. She jumped ship before officially being called back after growing tired of uncertainty surrounding when she’d have to return to work. She knew she wanted to move to a lower-cost city where she wouldn’t depend so much on a car, such as Philadelphia.

Such a move would have involved a 15% pay cut from Google, she says. “Is my work actually worth less?” she says she asked herself. If she wanted to keep her Bay Area salary, she worried she’d be required to report at least a few times a week to Google’s New York City office.

Instead, she made the move to Philadelphia and took a remote role with a New York-based cloud-computing company. She says she is now making around 20% more than her former salary and has the assurance she won’t have to give up her remote status.

“I could have confidence it wasn’t a temporarily remote offer,” she says.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: May 14, 2022.

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An expansive waterfront property with global designer flair.

By Terry Christodoulou
Fri, Jul 1, 2022 2 min

It’s bold to refer to any property in absolutes, but here Portovenere Estate represents Clontarf’s grandest waterfront statement and its most coveted residence.

Designed in the 1960s, the two-storey, 7-bedroom, 8-bathroom and 5-car parking pile is set on an impressive 3015sqm waterfront plot. Since its inception, the home has had no expense spared in its contemporary reimagining.

Within, the home sees a global interpretation of design elevated by bespoke luxurious finishes from all over the world at every turn.

It starts from before you enter the front door — here an imported Ghizzi and Benatti fixtures from Italy. Once inside, one notices the heated marble and Savadi timber flooring that sweeps through the multiple living and entertaining zones including the family room, formal and casual dining.

Here in these living zones is a combination of designer furnishings and chandeliers from Fendi, Versace and Articolo and a made-to-order Ravens 11 ping-pong table — all of which is available as an option when purchasing the home.

Elsewhere the home’s kitchen is replete with Manhattan calacatta marble and is fitted with Gaggenau appliances and Sub-Zero refrigerators. The butler’s pantry is almost equally luxurious with Miele commercial appliances found here.

Further, the home’s multiple bathrooms are, too, fitted with Ceraba mosaic tiles and Gessi luxury tapware and shower systems.

Throughout the home’s many bedrooms, each is fitted with a timber veneer bedhead design, while the master bedroom sees a Madrona Burl veneer back panel and is complete by its own expansive ensuite (with a spa) and walk-in robe.

Both levels of the home feature outdoor space built to entertain fitted with outdoor BBQ appliances, pizza oven and Janus et Cie furnishing. Further outdoor amenities include the L.A Lakers half-court basketball court, mini soccer field and elevated podium pool.

Back inside, the home is fitted with a number of mod-cons including a poker table, in-home cinema, wine cellar, gym, salon and study with home automation and security managed by a Savant smart system.

A sandstone adorned rooftop entertaining terrace tops off the heady list of amenities that this residence holds, offering stunning views across the waterside suburb and beyond. All levels are accessed via a KONE lift.

The home is also privy to completely contained staff quarters suitable for an in-house au pair.

The property is listed with Monika Tu (+61 409 898 888) of Black Diamondz Property Concierge with a price guide of $35m -$38m; blackdiamondz.com.au

The city-fringe locale continues to boom with its prized mansions and natural amenities

By Sue Wallace
Thu, Jun 30, 2022 5 min

From stately historic mansions to expensive new builds with underground garage space for 20 cars, Medindie, the exclusive inner northern suburb of Adelaide,  has always been a well-heeled location with buyers lining up to own property bearing the blue-ribbon address.

Many keen buyers and investors are prepared to wait years for a grand Victorian mansion or a more contemporary sprawling home to come on the market in the area. Such properties tend to move fast. Stunning mansions with impressive facades, sweeping lawns, manicured gardens, tennis courts and swimming pools are located on expansive 1-acre landholdings that cannot be developed or subdivided, making them even more attractive to buyers.

The suburb is home to many historic dwellings including Willyama, built in 1883 by prospecter Charles Rasp, who discovered the rich ore deposits at Broken Hill in New South Wales, and The Briars, built in 1856 for George Hawker, which became a hospital.

Robe Terrace is the suburb’s star attraction, lined with attractive mansions including The Elysian, a modern residence which smashed the state’s residential sales record after selling in excess of $10 million last year. Pretty Victorian villas, contemporary terraces, townhouses and cottages are also sought after, but it’s those grand mansions that are the drawing card.

Medindie offers quality inventory at all levels and attracts families looking for a long-term hold and professionals after a “lock and leave” lifestyle seeking a comfortable base while in Adelaide.

It appeals to medical professionals wanting to be close to major hospitals as well as farmers based in the north of the state wanting a weekender close to the CBD, North Adelaide and Adelaide Oval, a sports and entertainment venue

Nature lovers and fitness fans enjoy the Adelaide Park Lands, known as Australia’s biggest backyard, while the River Torrens Linear Park Trail is a spectacular 30-kilometer nature walk.

It is also on the doorstep of vibrant cosmopolitan precincts including Prospect Road, Walkerville Terrace and O’Connell Street, which showcase charm and convenience.

There is direct access into the city centre, Adelaide Zoo and the Botanical Gardens, plus it’s an easy walk into Rundle Street precinct for shopping.

Adelaide real estate agent Stephanie Williams of Williams Luxury Real Estate said Medindie exudes glamour and prestige with some jaw-dropping homes.

“As well as stunning properties, there are some new properties with show off features such as underground accommodation for 15 to 20 cars and mind-blowing cellars,” she said.

The suburb is a 10-minute drive north from the city center and a 20-minute drive to Adelaide International Airport.

Boundaries

Medindie is adjacent to the Adelaide Park Lands, north of North Adelaide, and is bounded by Robe Terrace to the south, Northcote Terrace to the east, Nottage Terrace to the north and Main North Road to the northwest. It is close to Adelaide’s central business district and surrounded by parklands.

Price Range

According to Kaytlin Ezzy, CoreLogic research analyst, Medindie houses recorded a median value as of April of A$2 million with top-tier values ranging from $2.38 million to $3.47 million. Compared to the nearby Prospect-Walkerville, Medindie’s median value is 62.6% higher, equivalent to a value gap of approximately $771,863, and nearly double (91%) the median value of the greater Adelaide region ($1.05 million).

Ms. Ezzy said the trend in Medindie’s house values has been positive over the past few years, rising 30.1% over the year to April and 57.2% over the past five years. This has resulted in the median value rising from $1.27 million in April 2017 to $1.54 million in 2021 before rising $463,644 over the past year resulting in a current median value of just over $2 million.

Medindie continues to be one of South Australia’s most prestigious suburbs and is home to generations of families who have resided there for centuries as well as newly wealthy buyers, according to Ms. Williams.

“Once they buy there, they remain, as it is an extremely tightly held location, offering unsurpassable exclusivity and prestige—significant mansions and luxurious estates and properties with prominent land holdings have encouraged affluent families to invest in this area for generations,” she said.

Housing Stock

There is a very pronounced short supply of luxury properties on the market in Medindie, where there is a variety of architecture from historic Victorian styles to modern contemporary housing.

There are attractive villas, terraces, townhouses and cottages that are also sought after.

Ms. Williams said lifestyle estates and family homes always sell within their scheduled sales campaigns whether via expressions of interest, auction, or private treaty.

This six-bedroom, four-bathroom luxury home in Medindie is currently under contract.WILLIAMS LUXURY

“Covid has changed the buying patterns of the luxury market in particular with wealthy clients changing their priorities to more home-based activities, with health and wellness being a major priority,” Ms. Williams said. “The desire for swimming pools, tennis courts, beautiful established gardens, wellness retreats and home offices being more popular than ever before. Luxury homes have never been in greater demand.”

Statistics show Medindie has 394 residential homes for sale compared to the nearby suburbs of Norwood, which has 1,901 residential homes on the market, and St. Peters, which has 870 residential homes for sale.

What Makes It Unique

Buyers are attracted to Medindie for the magnificent adjacent parklands, its proximity to central Adelaide and larger-than-average block sizes.

It is also the only suburb within a short stroll of the exclusive girls-only Wilderness School.

Luxury Amenities

Medindie is surrounded by shopping locales, including the Rundle Mall and Rundle Street in the city, which offer a wide range of luxury boutiques, including the David Jones department store. It is also very close to fashion-forward Melbourne Street and cosmopolitan O’Connell Street, the North Adelaide Shopping Village, and the shops along super-trendy Prospect Road.

Grocery stores in North Adelaide include Cibo Espresso, The Flying Fig, Coffee Gods Café, Romeo’s Foodland and The North Adelaide Village.

Top restaurants include The Lion Hotel, a South Australian icon that is directly across the Parklands, and North Adelaide has the Gin Long Canteen, Ruby Red Flamingo and Marrakech. The nearby Adelaide CBD has a vast range of excellent restaurants including Soi 38 known for its Thai cuisine, Italio-American inspired Fugazzi Bar and Dining Room, Osteria Oggi, Japanese-inspired Erato Teppanyaki, Arkhe on The Parade where chef Jake Kellie from Michelin star Burnt Ends in Singapore stars, and Orso on Kensington Road that has a following for its seafood and pasta.

Private schools include the Wilderness School, St. Peters College, Prince Alfred College and St. Andrews School. Nearby public schools include the new Adelaide Botanic High School, North Adelaide Primary School, Walkerville Primary School and Prospect Primary School.

Who Lives There?

Property tycoons, farmers, bankers, medical specialists, successful IT professionals and socialites all call Medindie home.

Outlook

Ms. Williams said the market in Medindie continues to be incredibly strong, with buyer demand for this esteemed suburb at an all-time high and showing no signs of slowing down.

“We are continuing to experience a very high level of buyer inquiry for homes for sale in the area and some homes are selling off-market without reaching the paper or any online platforms,” she said.

“The suburb has always performed extremely well from a capital growth perspective and consistently features in the top 10 performing suburbs in South Australia. The average house price in Medindie over the past 12 months is A$2.68 million, which is an incredible growth of 82.4% during this time.”

Ms. Essy said while still reporting strong quarterly growth compared to the national trend (5.6%), capital appreciation across the Adelaide house market has started to ease.

“With the cash rate starting to rise and consumer confidence continuing to trending downwards, it’s likely the housing market is inching toward a downswing, with the higher end of the market typically showing more volatility both in the upwards and downwards phase of the cycle,” she said.

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: June 18, 2022.

In the year to May, an additional 497 markets joined the million-dollar club.

By Kanebridge News
Tue, Jun 28, 2022 2 min

A record number of Australians spent $1 million or more to purchase a home in the past 12 months according to CoreLogic’s annual Million Dollar Markets report.

Over the year to March 2022, CoreLogic collected 596,733 sales nationally up 19.8% from the 497,923 recorded over the previous year. Of those sold this year, 23.8% sold for $1 million or more.

In the year to May, an additional 497 markets 450 houses and 37 unit markets) joined the million-dollar club bringing the total markets to 1367 or 30.4% of house and unit markets analysed in May to a median value of $1 million or more.

“High consumer sentiment, tight advertised supply, and low-interest rates fuelled strong home value growth throughout 2021, resulting in a new record high annual growth rate of 22.4% over the 12 months to January,” said CoreLogic Research Analyst Kaytlin Ezzy.

“Despite values having risen across all capital cities and rest of state areas annually, we have seen a divergence in growth conditions across markets over the year to date.

“Since January, dwelling values across Sydney and Melbourne have started to decline, while values have continued to rise across South Australia and Queensland. More recently, Canberra, which had previously recorded many months of consecutive growth, recorded its first falls in dwelling values in some years in May.”

Sydney suburbs made up 26.3% of the new million-dollar markets with more than half of all Sydney sales over the 123 months to May transacting at or above $1 million.

In Sydney, 448 house and 104 unit markets have a current median value of $1 million dollars or higher, an increase of 26.6% from the previous year.  The new million-dollar markets are largely concentrated in the city’s South West (30) and Outer South West (15) as well as the Central Coast region (20).

In the year to May, 51.9% of transactions in Sydney sold for $1 million or more. Bellevue Hill in Sydney’s Eastern Suburbs is the most expensive house market, both across Sydney and nationally, with a current median value of $8,024,682.

Elsewhere, in Melbourne 212 house and 11 unit markets had a median value at or above $1 million in May majority of which are located in Melbourne’s Inner (39), Inner South (42), Inner East (30) and Outer East (30).