Author :
(DEACTIVATED) Brent Mercer

Obsidian Market Update 2/17/2022

dad working from home with kids playing in background

The Future of Remote Work

Working from home—either full or part time—was a defining element of the pandemic. According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2021 American Community Survey, the number of people working from home tripled between 2019 (5.7% or about 9 million people) and 2021 (17.9% or 27.6 million people). In Washington, D.C and Maryland, percentages were even higher at 48.3% and 24.0% respectively.

In the last 12 months, companies have started bringing employees back into the office, including:

  • Apple
  • Citigroup
  • Disney
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Google
  • JP Morgan
  • Salesforce
  • Starbucks
  • Twitter
  • Uber

The Employee Perspective

Employees like working from home and 40% believe that the reduction in commute time, flexibility and autonomy make them more productive. In a study that supports their belief, researchers compared workers who worked only in the office to those who came into the office only one day per week, and found a 13% improvement in performance from those working from home.

The Employer Perspective

Despite increases in productivity, CEOs claim that remote work cannot replace in-person collaboration, interaction, innovation, motivation, mentoring, culture and spontaneity. Excepting Twitter, few require 40 hours of in-office work. Why? Perhaps it’s because, as one researcher argues, when a company manages a mixed working mode well, it “can have the best of both worlds.”

The benefits to employers of remote work go beyond productivity:

  • They need less office space and equipment and spend less on phone and internet.
  • Fewer employees call in sick.
  • Their hiring pools expand exponentially.
  • Costs of relocating potential employees are eliminated.
  • Attrition rates—a key metric in a tight labor market—decrease by as much as 50% according to one study.

The Ripple Effect

The effects of both remote work policies ripple beyond the workplace. In 2020, researchers found a “45% decline in office values and 39% in the longer-run, the latter representing a $453 billion value destruction.” This decline in value affects institutional investors (e.g., pension plans) and local governments that rely on property and sales taxes. New York City alone expected to lose $111 million in annual sales tax receipts.

Researchers also cite the “donut effect, rising [real estate] prices in the suburbs and slumping prices in major city centers.”

What’s Next

A study by AT&T found that “while the fully remote workplace model is expected to take a dramatic decline from 2021 (56%) to 2024 (19%), the hybrid model is expected to grow from 42% (2021) to 81% (2024).” If the companies on the list above are any indication, this prediction may be conservative: All but Twitter called back only some employees or all employees for only several days per week.


Welcome Ashley Helm!

This month our team welcomes Ashley Helm as a client service specialist.

Ashley comes to Obsidian after nearly 10 years with Northwestern Mutual where she worked as an associate financial advisor. “As my 10th anniversary approached, I knew I wanted to go deeper into financial planning . . . to understand the models behind the product and plan recommendations,” she explains. “I wanted to work with a group of committed caring people doing great things for a diverse group of clients. When I met with Pat, Todd and Sean, I found what I was looking for.”

Ashley holds FINRA Series 6, 63 and Securities Industry Essentials licenses, and insurance licenses in health, life, variable, disability, and long-term care. She’s working on her Series 7 license and is one class away from attaining her Chartered Life Underwriter® (CLU®) designation.

Ashley was born in the San Francisco Bay area and spent years in Arizona before moving to Montana in 2021 where she lives with her three dogs and husband, Shay. She has a bachelor’s degree in public administration from Northern Arizona University, is a science fiction reader, and a self-motivated lifelong learner.

“I’m so excited to be part of Obsidian’s team,” Ashley says. “Already I can tell that Obsidian has a real and lasting impact on people’s lives and am so grateful for the opportunity be part of that.”

How We Help

When we welcome new employees like Ashley to our team, we have a process in place to integrate them into the workings and culture of our company. Our goal is to bring them up to speed quickly and make them feel at home. We designed our new client onboarding process to achieve similar goals: Introduce Obsidian’s team members and processes and make clients comfortable accessing both.

We recognize that individuals who engage us to help them reach their financial goals are taking a leap of faith, so we do everything we can to deserve that trust. When you refer your friends, family members and colleagues to us, you give us the most valuable endorsement possible. We treasure each endorsement and work every day to merit your confidence in us.

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