115 thoughts on “Tuesday Open Thread

  1. DS made it back to school yesterday and passed his COVID test. His roommate isn’t coming back until next week. He was going to come back today but his flight was too late to get a test, so he rescheduled it. Their suitemate moved out and they aren’t sure if someone else is moving in.

    The school plans to phase in in-person classes, we’ll see if it actually happens this time. Hopefully DS will get to see the inside of a classroom at some point.

  2. Curious about what people think: I had a conversation with an acquaintance, who sold their 2nd home on the Cape last year at a significant gain. Cape was up ~30-35% last year. They are looking for another place on the Cape (different location)…and we had a discussion about what could happen with prices in 2021. Are there enough people out there that will not be getting on the planes in the foreseeable future and will be looking to buy a 2nd home? If there is a correction in the market and “white collar” jobs are lost, 2nd homes will come tot he market. Thoughts?

  3. Axs54,

    I think Milo is generally right about these things. People have short memories. If everyone who wants a vaccine can get a vaccine by June then things will go back to normal. I would bet there will be a mild correction as many people bought thinking this is the new normal and that WFH will be permanent. Some of those people will be able to continue to work remotely, sure. But I bet a fair number will be called back into the office.

  4. DS is inside his school building today for the first time since March 13th. He’s there with a small group to take standardized tests – masked, two 2-hour sessions with a lunch break. This is important because it is 1/3 of the HS entrance scoring. This particular session is for 2021 entrance, so for him it is just practice, but if the schedule holds, the same tests in April will make up 1/3 of his entrance for 2022. If it doesn’t hold, then this test may be part of it. (for this year’s 8th graders they are using “best of” a number of tests since testing was so scattered between Covid and last year’s teacher’s strike)

    If anyone wants to share – how are any of the NYC or other 8th graders with school decisions doing in their 9th grade applications/choices? I haven’t seen the latest on how they are handling the new application process for 2021.

  5. “Are there enough people out there that will not be getting on the planes in the foreseeable future and will be looking to buy a 2nd home? ”

    I can’t predict what is going to happen, but I can note what has already happened in the development where we have a 2nd house in the Blue Ridge Mountains. When we started building a year ago there were 11 homes under construction. Fast forward a year and a pandemic later, and every lot in the development has been sold and there are 74 houses either under construction or waiting to start. Buyers are from all over. The people building across the street are from Seattle. All are second homes. I understand that remote work has opened up the options for a lot of people to embrace second homes that have fast, reliable internet, where they can work remotely in a change of scene.

  6. DH played golf yesterday with a retired shoe salesman in his early 70s. Didn’t go to college but built a decent life in marketing shoes to big department stores. Now he spends his winters playing golf in his gated community here.
    There are a nontrivial number of Boomers who were able to turn middle class jobs with pensions or 401(k) into a comfortable retirement, especially if they benefitted from appreciation of their home in a major metro area and have been riding the stock market for the last decade or so. Those are the people who bought the homes and condos here. It’s not obvious to whom they will sell them when the time comes.
    There may be a glut of second homes in the not too distant future as people stop living restricted lives and start traveling again.

  7. “I would bet there will be a mild correction as many people bought thinking this is the new normal and that WFH will be permanent.”

    Haha, I see Rhett was posting as I was writing. When the correction occurs, you guys can snatch up the surrounding properties and we can have the Totebag cocktail party. The views are spectacular at sunset.

  8. I don’t think we – in general – ever go back fully to working 5 days/week in the office as the majority of office work. The potential real estate savings for companies are too great, and employees have proved that they can be trusted with more flexibility. There will be push back. I also think it will take a long time for business travel to fully uptick – again, the savings are too great. But I think masses of people decamping to vacation homes to work regularly is probably not going to continue – especially since I expect schools to be 100% normal/in person next fall, and I doubt homeschooling will be a huge trend among the families of white collar workers beyond this year.

    I should write that down some where to check that prediction in a year.

  9. Good luck to your DS. My DD took he ACT in December with a mask and it is not fun. These exams are stressful enough, but it is tougher with mask because you can’t sip water etc. I think she is a probably used to it vs. your DS since she has to wear a mask all day except for 20 minutes at lunch.

    NYC is a $%#@ show for this year for entrance to MS and HS. The exam can not be eliminated for eight public high schools because that entrance process is controlled by the state legislature. The SHSAT will start to be administered on Jan 27 for entrance to those 8 schools.

  10. Ivy – DD will be taking HS placement test for private school in Feb. That test scores along with this years grades will be used for 9th grade class placement. The tiers are Regular/Advanced or Honors. It’s important to be placed in the correct tier otherwise it’s no fun appealing your placement later on. I learnt this the hard way with DS. Now, I think DS is in the appropriate tiers, he wasn’t starting out.

  11. DD#1 had an interview for a summer internship last week; she did not get one of the positions, so the hunt continues. She is still waiting on approval for her Spring independent learning experience activities. She is much more relaxed, more so than in the past 18 months, and I think it will all work out in the end.

    DD#2 goes back to school this coming Monday. She will get a COVID test upon arrival. I am a bit nervous with all current news and rumors about this past week and next week. I think she is ready to be away from home again and since we seem to be butting heads, I think I am ready too.

    SO didn’t want to be left out of this week’s each person cook a meal and cooked on Sunday. I was trying to guide him toward the meal that only requires putting less than ingredients in the crockpot at the same time, plus a “steam in the bag” veg. DD#2 jumped in that she wanted that meal and did not pick up on any hints that I was trying to steer her away from it. The recipe he chose has about 10 ingredients, plus some timing challenges. He made two mistakes in following the recipe. One was minor, but the other was he left out a major ingredient (3 cups of cheese). It wasn’t awful, but it was odd. I reminded DD#2 right after we selected the meals that her dad’s memory and executive function are impaired from the cancer treatment and/or age. She just blew up at me that I wasn’t giving him enough credit, but then Sunday kept repeating the the meal didn’t taste like it normally does. Again, away from SO, I told her what happened, repeated the problem to her, and told her harping on the “weird” taste sure didn’t help his feelings.

  12. Ivy ITA. The “let’s work from a beach house forever!” contingent tends to forget about the need to manage kids’ education and childcare and activities. And somehow I doubt that all the folks buying vacation homes are really vetting the school systems like they did when they bought their main homes. . . .

    If there’s one thing this year has taught me, it’s that my kids need to be in school, in person — for my own sanity as well as theirs. And my kids are easy!

  13. I don’t think we – in general – ever go back fully to working 5 days/week in the office as the majority of office work.

    I could certainly see the percentage working from home permanently going from 16% to 32%. I don’t think it will get over 50%.

    The potential real estate savings for companies are too great,

    I think one or two days a week remotely works very well. The problem is it works best when you have a day or two when everyone needs to be in the office. If that’s the case then you really don’t save any money as your office still needs to be big enough for everyone.

    I also think it will take a long time for business travel to fully uptick – again

    I also agree. But keep in mind if demand falls then prices will fall. If the Monday AM flight to Cincinnati is $850 and the hotel is $150 a night that’s a lot of savings. If the flight is $207 and the hotel is $99 then it makes more sense to be there in person.

  14. Agree with Ivy about the difficulty of decamping with school age children.
    The working remotely from a beach house model works best for those who are single by choice or partnered with someone who can also work remotely.
    The best situation is to have parents with an extra wing in their beach house. We have encountered a few of those families in our walks around the neighborhood here. One woman actually taught her high school science class remotely from the pool deck while her own kids were playing in the pool with their grandparents.

  15. partnered with someone who can also work remotely.

    That’s another huge factor. If your spouse gets called back to the office M-F and you don’t, what’s the plan then?

  16. My employer is looking at reducing our office space by at least 25 to 30% when we move in 18 months. This is due to (1) more work from home, (2) functions that management did not think could be done remotely can, and (3) previously calculated 10% space reduction due to either purging old records or digitizing them as the new building does not have “record” storage rooms for paper. They are looking at more “shared” spaces – they don’t want to go quite as far as “hoteling”, but are looking at things like 2 people assigned to a cubicle who alternate when they come to the office and likely less than 5 out of every 10. Also, looking at each department having one day a at least a month (more frequent depending on the department) that everyone is in the office. I think this is more likely

  17. We don’t plan on flying this year, but are already thinking about a European trip in 2022.

    DH’s company is saving tens of thousands of dollars by him and his colleagues not going to work-related conferences.

  18. I agree with Ivy on the space reductions. Just look at what has happened over the past 20-30 years or so. Even pre-pandemic, we had first cubicles, then “open workspaces” that were designed to save space and so cut costs. My own firm recently changed offices for the first time since I think the ’80s, and the difference in construction of the building is shocking. Even with significant increases in DC rents, we cut something like $1M from annual costs, because the new place is newer and so provides a more efficient use of space. Some of it is smaller offices (vs. ego partner offices). But the vast majority seems to be (i) less on-site document storage, and (ii) much less space devoted to support staff (walking around the old office, maybe about one in every 3 stations was occupied — even though every single attorney office was). The old landlord just couldn’t compete, because there was SO much wasted space.

    I doubt that we’re going to have massive shifts one way or the other; indeed, we may have a short-term pendulum-swing in the other direction as people are SO happy to be back in the office initially. But I do think the trend over the past maybe 40 years is towards saving money by doing more with fewer people in less space, and I see no reason to believe that trend is going to change in the near future.

  19. “I think one or two days a week remotely works very well. The problem is it works best when you have a day or two when everyone needs to be in the office. If that’s the case then you really don’t save any money as your office still needs to be big enough for everyone.”

    Again, that’s very job-specific. In my job, it would make total sense for an entire team to be in the office on the same day at least once every week or two (although tbh we’re doing pretty well with weekly Zoom calls). But there is no reason why all of the various teams would need to be in the office on the same day.

  20. I don’t think the vacation home model works with young kids or even HS kids that want to be with their friends on the weekends. Kids will have weekends filled with bday parties, soccer, dance, and other activities. Older kids want to be with their friends on the weekend and they also have sports or other activities.

    My DH know that he is remote until July, but one of his colleagues quit because she wasn’t able to work remotely from PA. She was originally based in California and it was a big tax hit for her employer to permit her to work in PA on a permanent basis so they said no. I mentioned this a couple of times in earlier posts because I have read some articles about this, but I think income taxes are looming as a problem for some folks. Most people are just about to start filing their tax returns for 2020. There will be issues for individuals and corporations. Some states were aggressive about collecting every penny before the pandemic. They allocated staff and resources when residents tried to claim that they worked in another state for x number of days. In the pandemic world, these same states are desperate for every $ of income tax. They aren’t just going to look the other way when people start filing from other states with lower taxes.

  21. I think there will be certain job functions which will shift to working remotely. External client facing functions will require people to be in a physical location. I think even these will be consolidated. The cost savings from having a big part of the workforce WFH can’t be ignored. There will be tweaks now and again to encourage or discourage some work related behaviors but by and large my workplace was already trickling towards WFH, the pandemic just accelerated it by years.

  22. But I do think the trend over the past maybe 40 years is towards saving money by doing more with fewer people in less space, and I see no reason to believe that trend is going to change in the near future.

    Then again office rents are plunging. If this could be the median partner office for half what you’re paying now:

    At least some folks would jump at that offer.

  23. @AustinMom – That is exactly what I am thinking and hearing discussed. Expanding the conference center to accommodate more meetings (e.g., the potential one day a month when everyone in a certain dept is required to be in the office), plus fully converting the rest to “flex space” or hoteling type space that is reserved online at a ratio of 50% capacity per person assigned to that office. That requires much, much less space than the old cubicle-for-everyone model.

    @Rhett – I agree that we won’t go from 15% of employees entirely WFH to 75%. That’s why I don’t think people will really all end up moving to the country permanently. But I think it will change enough to move the needle to significantly more people being home more often (a few days a week, say).

  24. I think it depends on the school. Some of my friends are scrambling because their kids are heading back to college later this month. Some schools require the PCR. Others require a test within a certain number of days of return to campus. A couple of schools use the mail in saliva test. It really seems to vary by school even within the same state.

  25. Axs54. The real estate market for houses, including townhouses, around Boston is red hot. I think what happens to Cape real estate is going to vary from house to house depending on location, modernity or refurbishment. And if the buyer plans to use it and hang onto it for a long time. 50 -60 something Consultants/wind down/ semiretired often live year round on the near Cape. Families with kids at home not so much. I am not a Cape lover. Too moldy. If I chose that sort of year round home it would be in Rockport MA. For summer only, RI not far from Rhode.

  26. 2nd home…

    DW’s family has a large place at the Jersey Shore. It has served the three generations that use it well for the past 22 years, but things are changing.
    Generation 1: my ILs, no expected change
    Generation 2: DW, her two sisters + three husbands
    Generation 3: “our” kids, now ages 18-26, 4 of whom live within 1-2hrs of the shore place. 2 girls, 5 guys.

    The oldest granddaughter just got engaged to a guy (who is an only child and whose parents had a place in the same shore town, but for whatever reason they sold it) and they expect to be there a lot during the season. Which only complicates things when other couples visit. i.e. DS1 + GF, DS2 +GF, DW + me. Not that all of us will ever be there at the very same time.

    I know DW would like to retire to someplace like that. She hasn’t actually said the same town, but I know for 2 of our Generation 3 guys it’d be good because then they likely can see some of their grandparents and cousins and aunt/uncle when they visit.

    My previous stance has been “2nd home, NFW.” Too much brain space. But now I’ve begun thinking that maybe if the market turns down we should think about getting a place which would accommodate us 5 + extensions, any future grandkids, for the next 20 yrs. And do it now so we can get it set up before we actually retire. Maybe WFH there a few weeks now and then before cutting loose. It’s not a resort-only town; sure most of the boardwalk places close mid-Sept to Memorial Day, but there are regular stores (grocery, CVS, hardware) and banks, other services of everything in abundance so living there year round is highly doable/regular.

    Won’t happen in 2021, but maybe a 2022 possibility.

  27. DD#1 does not return to campus until Fall, but her school is requiring testing for those returning in the Spring. However, no guidance has been given and move-in dates have not been assigned. Kids are supposed to move in 1/22-24. Parents – mainly out-of-state – are unhappy because without dates neither flights nor COVID tests can be scheduled. Plus, depending on where you are the type of test available nd the turn around time for results are inconsistent. Several speculate the withholding of information is because the school is going to announce it will go 100% remote. I am just thankful she is home this semester.

  28. We live in a county that is largely 2nd homes – our population quadruples over the summer. The various towns have said that they have seen more people semi relocating from the big city – school enrollment up, doctors stretched thin. It’s been attributed to the permission to work from home. My kids’ school went from 150 kids to 165. It’s not a big loss to the city schools that they leave, but it’s big to us – a little more crowded and an extra teacher allocated. 1% of 1million making a change to live more rural matters a lot to the rural areas.

  29. Austin, I’m glad to hear DD1 is doing well coping with her challenges. The cooking story is all too familiar. Not that my dad ever wanted to cook, but that the memory/executive functions show up in ways and at times you didn’t expect them. It’s good that you pointed it out to DD2 and explained it to her, instead of trying to “cover” for him.

    I see job ads saying work from home is possible, and even the call center is allowing it. But it seems to me that a lot of Desk jobs here are having people come into the office. I wonder if Germany/Europe will have the permanent shift to more WFH you guys are talking about.

    Whereas some of your kids are getting back to classrooms for the first time, my son has been going to school in person since about May (I’m really not sure). This year they are online through the end of January, and maybe beyond. Berlin’s Covid stats are the worst they’ve ever been.

    There are PSA posters around town about Berliner rolling up their sleeves and getting the vaccine, but I don’t know anyone who’s gotten it yet. I should’ve asked the PT tonight where he stands in line, as he is obviously in close proximity to clients all day.

    As far as people’s memories being short, so they’ll get back to vacationing, etc—the last 40 years Trafo pretty well with the 40 a century before. We are headed towards a new gilded age, with increasing difference between rich and poor (those “ middle class jobs with pensions or 401(k)” Scarlett referred to are gone) and the parties of the Roaring 20s.

  30. Completely random post, DD is very annoyed with and says I am “crushing her dreams” because I won’t let her get a bunny. She volunteers at the animal shelter playing with them and of course wants one. But we got three kittens in June, and she’s leaving for college this summer. So I’m the buzzkill, as she likes to call me. She just texted me some pictures of one of the bunnies at the shelter that she wants to adopt.

  31. DD – the perfect time to remind her that this is why she is going to college. So she can pay for her own abode and make her own rules!

  32. Ongoing WFH.

    My employer, unlike some companies, will never say “those of you working from home can plan to keep doing that at least until (date)/thru 2021/forever, etc.” In my case I expect to continue WFH thru at least the first half of this year. And honestly if we get that far, I will want to continue it thru Thanksgiving because the weather is nice enough thru then that I’ll want to be able to do stuff outside with the extra 4-5hrs/week I’m not spending commuting. Today marks 302 days since I last worked in the office.

    Because of Covid I put 5000 miles on my car in 2020 vs a usual 11,700. I’m sure many of you are even lower. Probably not even 3000 miles since mid-March. At this rate this could certainly be the last car I ever need to buy!

  33. DD – Here there are needs to “foster” just about every animal you can think of. Is there an opportunity for her her “foster” bunnies without actually taking ownership of one?

    Fred – My car just came due for some routine maintenance. The shop’s program thinks my vehicle should be at 50K miles, but I am only at 26K. Combination of WFH pre-COVID and COVID reduction of most other trips.

    SM – The WFH issue that is coming up more and more is that when we are post-COVID will working at your kitchen table with kids, pets, etc. in the background continue to be OK or will the expectation (my employer anyway) of a dedicated home office space with a door that closes return? Pre-COVID those of us whose normal work space was home had to meet certain criteria – dedicated space, adequate security for confidential documents, door shut, met safety requirements, etc. I think the tighter your living quarters combined with WFH physical requirements make going to the office more appealing.

  34. For those of you whose kids must get clean results on a CV-19 test before returning to campus, does the school care whether it’s an antigen test or a PCR test?

    Arizona didn’t seem to care, but they wanted it to be done in-state, and were very picky about the documentation they would require to accept. Basically they were pushing really hard to have everyone do the on-campus testing.

  35. Austin, with three cats less than a year old, fostering anything is probably not a good idea. She can volunteer as much as she want – she’s the only volunteer they have for the bunnies – and play with them to her heart’s content.

  36. Lol Sunshine. An exchange we’ve had a few times (we live in under 500 sq ft & he’s 18, so this is not alarming): “I can’t wait til I have my own place”. Pause. I nod, then say “Good”.

  37. Car purchased Feb 2020 has yet to crack 3000 miles. Last I looked it was 2500.

    On WFH outside of the US. Most of the pronouncements and initiatives (including cost savings) for my large conglomerate are global and coming out of our Paris-based HQ. Employees in our China office have complained on global meetings that they’ve been forced back into the office to show “China has conquered the virus” and are upset not to be part of the global announcements pushing for work flexibility “beyond Covid 19”. Offices in other locations have opened entirely but are still operating until 10% density because no one wants to come in – I have heard this is the case in places as far flung as Brazil, Dubai and Mumbai. The European and US buildings are not fully open. My office is set up to have spots for about 150 people per day in the office and is averaging more like 5. There has been some use of the conference center for more formal high-quality video conferences, client meetings, etc.

    As for me, I am a WFH convert. Ideally, I’d like the reverse of what I used to do pre-Covid. I had been 4 days office/1 home and now my preference would be 1 office/4 home.

  38. “The WFH issue that is coming up more and more is that when we are post-COVID will working at your kitchen table with kids, pets, etc. in the background continue to be OK or will the expectation (my employer anyway) ”

    My issue with WFH long-term (as a manager) are the same as it was before. WFH is not a substitute for child care for babies and young kids. Pets, running an errand during the day, older kids, throwing something in the oven, outdoor noises from working on your deck – those are fine. We’ll see what the policy ends up being for 2022…

  39. “does the school care whether it’s an antigen test or a PCR test?”

    PCR only. Testing done no later than 1/15, submitted by 1/19, move-in I think no earlier than 3-4 days after submission. Plus two-week quarantine before returning to campus and logging in to their health tracker daily during that 14 days. Oh, and a flu shot.

    Not quite sure how all of their deadlines are going to mesh, given that classes start 1/25, and in the past they have required specific check-in times, and everyone is going to want Saturday (no word yet on times this semester). But they have already declared that anyone who doesn’t meet all the requirements upon return gets to stay in the quarantine hotel until they do. And everyone hated the quarantine hotel, so it sounds like they have picked an excellent way to motivate the kids. ;-)

    DD: My DD still sends me pics of adorable rescue kittens she wants to adopt — and then when I say no argues that our rescue three-legged wonder cat was *my* cat, not hers, and hers died, and so she *deserves* a new one. I tell her to get an apartment and a job, and she can have as many cats as she wants. ;-)

  40. Where’s J-M been? or, for the francophones, Ou est J-M? (yeah, I know there’s supposed to be an accent over the u, but I’m not changing to a french keyboard).

  41. My office still has 4 years left on a lease. I imagine by 2025 most people will be back in the office. We have several new people that have been hired since March. They all say that they’d love to be in the office because the video calls and emails among our group aren’t enough, but I think that is industry specific. Their onboarding is going slower than we normal see, mainly because the thinking out loud/quick questions a new employee has just isn’t asked.

    I work with a lot of HR people, across many industries. Most have all been working from home. They tell me that they want to be back in the office, and intend on having their employees back in the office on a regular basis, but with more flexibility than in the past.

  42. Both my kids have to get PCR tests. Oldest just got his negative result yesterday and submitted it to his school. Middle kid has more draconian requirements – test must be administered 3 days before the return and results must be available by the day of the return. They then have to quarantine for 4 days and then get another test. My university is following the same protocol for kids in housing.

  43. And I learned last night that our school district is going to start testing the kids

  44. DD, we went through something like that with my daughter a couple of years ago. She was convinced her life would be better if she had a turtle. We kept pointing out to her that turtles require a huge aquarium setup, and would make a tasty morsel for the cat. Ultimately, she got some of her friends to give her a turtle for her birthday. Now we were stuck with the dang thing. And reading about the turtle on the web, I discovered that buying these turtles as pets is strongly discouraged. Nt husband trekked the turtle back to the store where it came from and managed to convince them to take it off our hands.

  45. They tell me that they want to be back in the office,

    That’s another factor. A lot of people like being in the office. Some like a very clear division between work and home. Others like the social aspect. I would expect totebaggers, tending as they do toward introversion, might tend to underweight the social aspect.

  46. Ivy – I was 1 or 2 days in the office in the BeforeTimes and will probably return to 1 in the office post-Covid. I have far too many work clothes for this schedule! ;)

  47. I am just hoping I can get a vaccine before the fall, when we will certainly be back teaching on campus.

  48. Testing for my girls was no big deal. Their campus provides testing and the college town provides free testing for all residents. I watched DD2 schedule her test a few weeks ago. It took maybe two minutes. She lives in the dorms and gets tested twice a week.

    California has great difficulty doing anything right, but the testing regime at the kids’ college is pretty seamless and effective. I don’t understand why it can’t be scaled.

  49. The two people that got special permission to work in DH’s office building are young and they live in tiny apartments. Some people in expensive cities don’t want to work in their apartment if it isn’t conducive to remote work due to size or noise. Two of my girlfriends that work for banks have to work from their closets in their apartments. One lost her bedroom to her husband and her kids took over the kitchen. There are plenty of people that live near their offices and they might prefer to have real desk. The junior employees also want to meet people on their teams or receive in person coaching/training.

  50. The WSJ has a front page story today on “fake commutes” that WFH folks are adding to their days in order to reclaim the downtime/ transition period that a longish commute used to provide.
    But OTOH, think of all those extramarital affairs that *aren’t* happening because there are far fewer opportunities to flirt in person with the cute guy in accounting or to misbehave on business trips.

  51. Scarlett –
    I had to laugh at this…
    “to flirt in person with the cute guy in accounting”

  52. All this pent up demand to be the office again may be there. But I am telling you – where office space is available in my company, very very few people are taking advantage of it. And that’s global. Will that change when things are more “back to normal”? Sure – a bit. But will it be the same as before? I doubt it.

  53. Testing on campus was easy for both my girls. When they came home at Thanksgiving (end of on campus semester) free testing was readily available here. As the cases are going up, they seem to be trying to focus testing on those who have symptoms or had exposure, but I haven’t heard of them turning anyone away. We just opened our convention center was opened as a field hospital.

    The timing of getting a test and the results within 3 days of reporting to campus is not universally available. Some parents on DD#1’s parent group are reporting that they cannot currently get PCR results in 72 hours, more like 5 -7 days. The school is not saying what to do if you can’t meet the 3 day requirement, plus they are 10 days from move-in with no assigned move-in days/times. So happy this isn’t my worry!

    DD#2’s school just requires testing upon arrival, then you get your room key and move back in to the room you had in the fall. So far, all that is doable.

  54. Sure, maybe there is a ton of pent up demand to go back to the office. But right now, office space is available, and globally – no one is using it. Will that change after the protocols change and kids go back to school? I’m sure it will some. But that doesn’t mean it will go back to 2019 levels.

    “The junior employees also want to meet people on their teams or receive in person coaching/training.”

    Personally, this is where I see the biggest loss with everyone remote.

  55. Oh – was anon at 4:09. I thought my post got lost because I got a weird error, so I retyped a similar one.

  56. Human beings are social creatures. For many people — especially those who are single and live alone — the workplace provides a lot of their social structure. This is especially true for those just entering the work force or who have recently relocated to a new community. It is difficult to separate out the true desire to WFH from the fear of COVID (or aversion to masks and distance rules) that is keeping many people from returning to an office right now.

  57. Vaccine anyone? SO is in the Phase 1B group in my state. So far, even though the news and government websites say his group can now get a shot, the locations for this group are reporting no vaccine or only for their patients. DD#2 is working with SO to get him “on the list”.

    Has anyone had the shot? I know a few healthcare providers who have.

    IMO, this relates to office space use as well. Those is high/higher risk groups do not want to mingle too much until they get the vaccine.

    I think wanting to go to the office means 1-3 days a week vs 5 days a week. I do think it is hard for new employees to be remote. One of my friends has a new person in her department. She voiced the concern that management feels the new guy is not picking things up fast enough, but she thinks it is because he isn’t getting enough (the amount she had when she started) mentoring in the remote environment. She has a one-on-one with her boss this week and was going to mention it. It made me wonder how many employees’ performance is impacted by remote working.

  58. It varies by state, but my parents have appointments for the vaccine. They were able to get appointments yesterday, but big difference by waiting a few hours. My mom is going this Friday and my dad is March 15. She signed up immediately and he waited until 4PM on the same day. They opened it to 65+ as of 11am today and my stepmom was able to get April. So, 7 millions NYers are eligible based on the criteria as of today. There are plenty of large sites open with appointments, but they can’t schedule people because there are not enough does per week. In this state, the pharmacies aren’t offering it until later this week, so they both signed up for one of the large facilities that are open now just for vaccines. County centers, community centers, conventions centers etc.

    I really hope J & J gets their act together to have their vaccine approved because we need more supply to meet demand.

  59. AustinMom – I got my parents scheduled for Monday through the county mass vaccination. Monday’s date suddenly opened up on the website and I snagged two slots. I kept checking the site now and again.
    My parents healthcare practice is smaller and is currently not administering vaccines. The two big healthcare providers in our area are scheduling their 1B patients.

  60. “Has anyone had the shot? I know a few healthcare providers who have.”

    TLC got a first Pfizer shot last week.

    Some MD friends got their first Pfizer shot before that. I think they’re due for their second shots next week. The only effects mentioned to us were some arm soreness. Sounds like it wasn’t much different from a flu shot for them, and a lot less effects than the Shingrix shots.

  61. My parent’s are getting the vaccine on Saturday. A friend mentioned that they should go to the local hospital, suite xyz, and fill out a form. My parents had not heard about this as an option, so they went, sure enough they filled out some paperwork, and the lady there said we can’t guarantee, but if we can get you scheduled, we’ll contact you. The next day, they got a call and confirmed appointment on Saturday. When my mom called her friend back to thank her for the information, her friend said she filled out the paperwork, and hasn’t heard back yet.
    It is all a mystery.

  62. My Mom started to get insistent that she wanted only the Pfizer vaccine. I told her that if we got an early enough date that was what she would get. But no guarantee if we got a later date. I started to feel irritated about her repeated mentioning of Pfizer. I told her that she may not have a choice. But it was just not getting through to her.

  63. I’m getting it tomorrow. My student got it last week and it knocked her out. She had a lot of arm pain and was extremely fatigued for a couple of days.

  64. We are supposed to be in Phase 1b. Our county doesn’t have enough vaccine for the hospital staff or nursing home staff. I have some workers who live in a neighboring county. In that county, vet students are getting vaccinated. I’m trying to at least get those workers through the system.

    This belongs on the political page, but, I have noticed that the government of this state is blue, the blue county has enough vaccine for vet students, the red county doesn’t have enough for hospital workers.

  65. My friend’s son is a doctor in Chicago and he is mid twenties. The second shot made him very sick and he couldn’t move for almost a day. His symptoms did remind me of some of the bad symptoms that some people have after the shingles vaccine. He was fine after one day.

    It does seem like some people are having a bit of a hard time after the second dose.

  66. “His symptoms did remind me of some of the bad symptoms that some people have after the shingles vaccine.”

    I had worse effects from the Shingrix shots than any other shots I can remember. Actually, they are the only effects beyond mild soreness that I can remember for any shots I’ve had.

    Both shots had me sore, fatigued, and headachy for the rest of the days on which I got the shots.

  67. Finn – it’s because she heard from relatives in the U.K. who got their Pfizer shots without side effects plus it’s been approved in other Western countries. Moderna is not as common elsewhere.

  68. Finn, a couple of my friends ended up in the ER after the shingles shots because they couldn’t breathe. They were fine with a day or two, but they were very sick for the first 24-48 hours.

  69. OTOH, my dad and FIL both had shingles, and it’s a really easy call to trade the side effects for what they went through.

  70. Hello from the Midwest aka red state. Still only hospitals vaccinating health care workers here, and not enough for all of them. No mention of timing or process for vaccinating the elderly or high risk.

  71. My state was ranked pretty low for vaccine distribution. Lots of hand wringing and now determination not to be at the bottom.

  72. Washington State is still only in phase 1A . Our parents are all 80+ so I’m looking forward to when they’ll be eligible. I have several friends who are nurses and have received the vaccine – seems fine so far. One said her arm was sore but that’s it.

    I’ve been meaning to get the Shingles vaccine but knowing it might have me functioning at less than 100% for a couple days has slowed me down. I really don’t want to get Shingles though. Maybe I’ll make this a resolution for 2021.

  73. SSM, don’t forget it’s Shingrix is a 2-shot sequence, 2 to 6 months apart. We got our first shots on Dec. 31, and barely got in our second due– stay at home orders put that in jeopardy for a while.

    If I had to do it again, I’d get the shots in the afternoon, and figure on being useless at least until the next day.

  74. I know lots of people who have received the vaccine. Side effects seem to be worse after the second shot. And the younger people seem to be having more side effects than the 50+ crowd. Everyone was so happy to get it despite the (transient) side effects.

  75. Blue state, and only vaccines to essential health care workers, police/fire, and long term care. Still no rollout to teachers, seniors, or non essentials. I have a friend who works in a group home for diabled adults. She was told today that she may get in the first week of February.

    Only 35% of doses received here have been doled out. Chick-fil-a really needs to get involved.

  76. “she wanted only the Pfizer vaccine.”

    Being a Boston girl, I am kind of hoping that I get the Moderna shot. To support a local business! But really, I’ll take whatever I can get. I won’t get anything for a long time — I will likely be the last person in my family to get one.

    Re. shingles, I have asked my PCP about the vaccine a couple of times since I turned 50, but she said that since I am still relatively young (by shingles-vaccine standards) and healthy (knock on wood), she advises me to wait. The way I understood it, you only get the vaccine once, and you don’t want to get it too early, or else it might not offer you enough protection when you’re really elderly. Or something like that.

  77. “Being a Boston girl, I am kind of hoping that I get the Moderna shot. To support a local business!”

    Don’t forget the Dolly Parton connection.

  78. Midwest state addendum, forgot, yes LTC patients also getting it here.

    I had shingles at 40. It can happen. After that I got the first vaccine, and then my dr told me to get the shingrix even before I was 50, I needed a scrip but went ahead and got it, because I do NOT want to get it again. The second shingles shot gave me a bit of reaction, more than a flu shot, but it didn’t take me down. Really sore arm is all I recall.

  79. I know many seniors here in Miami who have gotten the vaccine. Most complained of sore arms and I heard of one case that had a fever for a day. My parents’ appointment is next week.

  80. Finn, are you joking about getting in line early in the morning? That’s what I’ve done to go to the foreigners’ office most of the times I’ve been there. Appointment times are filled up months in advance, so there is no way to make one when you have a work contract, at least not in time to get there before said contract starts. I never had this issue before, because I had jobs lined up before we came here. They were professional positions, so I did have the contract that far ahead of time. But the system in place then gave Americans very similar preferential treatment to what EU members get now. Not anymore—these days we get there at 4-6 am and wait in line with everyone else. Doors opened at 7:30 last year. Now, with the virus, they don’t want people in the waiting rooms, so the line stretches around the block and people stay in it hours longer.

    It is difficult to separate out the true desire to WFH from the fear of COVID (or aversion to masks and distance rules) that is keeping many people from returning to an office right now. I would think it would be easy to tell. It’s either “one beni of this Covid thing is I finally get to wfh” or it’s “ok, wfh now….let’s see how I like it”

  81. On vaccines—my parents say they are following instructions from their county health dept. but haven’t heard anything yet. That’s something for me to do on the train this am.

  82. Btw, to make the lunch jars I posted about on recipe day, I just flipped over to that page, because I was already on the site. When I posted the recipe, I forgot to mention that I add a layer of firm tofu cubes at the bottom, with the dressing. By the time I eat it, they are well marinated. The way I posted it is the way it’s published elsewhere, but if anyone’s planning to make them, the tofu adds protein & heft.

  83. SM – for immigration here, they gave you appointment times but in big cities it didn’t matter and you could be waiting for a while. I had one experience in Boston that was awful. It was January, their waiting room was full so the line was outside in the freezing cold. It came to closing time and people were getting agitated. Many had taken time off from their jobs to be there, they were determined to get in. After a very long time standing in the cold, freezing, the officer tells us to come the next day. Only after he repeatedly assured us that we would be processed first the next day did people leave. Luckily, I could walk back to my office to thaw out. We did go in the next day and all was well but they should have told people to leave the previous day much earlier on instead of keeping them out in the cold.

  84. Louise, knowing what we do about how people are treated at our borders, I don’t complain about waiting a few hours in the cold here. It was a point of info in reaction to Finn’s comment. In the 90s, when my grant ran out (I wasn’t done with research because I had to be hospitalized), I got a job. I also needed to move; the guy I sublet a new place from from turned out to be really creepy, came by when I wasn’t there, called it “our” apt—yucky stuff. I had just met my Somali bf and moved in with him. His friends told me how early in the morning I had to get to the foreigners office. I decided to swing by one afternoon so I could see in the daylight where I needed to go in the wee hours. Turns out Americans and Somalis went to two different lines to two different offices. I was in and out in under 20 minutes—and I hadn’t intended to go through the process that day at all! When I got home and told them, they were concerned I was confused & hadn’t actually gotten what I needed. No mistake—it was all done. I cringed. They were so helpful to me in so many ways that it hurt to be treated so much better than they were. So when I am waiting in line so early in the morning, I think of my Somali friends and am thankful for fairness.

  85. I keep receiving alerts about my eligibility for the vaccine, but no appointments nearby are available. I’ll wait since I have no interest in going to more distant locations to get it. Based on what I’ve read on social media and what is being reported on the news, it may be April or later until my state is able to manage its supply accommodate me. People are going to distribution locations only to be turned back. Maybe in a month or so the logistics will improve.

    I had a 24-hour mild flu reaction to the shingles vaccine. A small price to pay for protection from what I’ve seen.

  86. My state seems full up getting healthcare, long term care facilities and the 75+ groups their vaccines. I don’t think they have the appetite to increase the list to go to the next group – 65+ and those with underlying conditions at this point. I need to give my up vaccine tracking data interest.

  87. I did sign up for text alerts from the NYS website, but I have yet to receive those. The alerts I am receiving are generic ones from the Gov. Cuomo coronavirus task force, pharmacies, and my own doctors.

  88. Scarlett, you have to sign up for the state alerts, but the county also sent an alert if you have ever signed up for county or state related Covid info since March 2020.

    Kim, they are adding new sites everyday so you do have to check. The reason that they are continuing to limit slots is that there are questions about supply.

  89. I don’t know if this is applicable to other states, but I’ll share my mom’s experience, in case it helps others get appointments. Here in Miami -Dade county they opened a phone line for people over 75 to call, leave a message and thus be queued for an appointment. The instructions were to wait for a confirmation call back. While waiting for the callback one of their friends told them in cranky old man fashion that they weren’t going to deal with an automated voicemail and just called back until a human answered and got an appointment on the spot. So my mom called 4 times – the fourth time someone answered and she got their appointments. (They also opened a web portal for everyone over 65 the following week, that seemed to work very well for the people I know who used it.)

  90. Ugh, so I have to get my vehicle emissions done today — apparently I am not eligible for any more extensions. The eye-roll is that the last time I went, they weren’t able to get a valid reading, because I hadn’t driven the car enough. That got me an extension until today. When I haven’t driven more than a mile or two for 10 months (with a few limited exceptions to go pick up my stained glass supplies). I’m sooo excited to go wait in line again to be told they can’t get a valid reading.

  91. My mom forwarded an email she got from her PCP with all the info on who’s where on the priority list, the links to sign up to be notified/get an appt. Which I thought was very helpful/straightforward (she thought so too).

    But she is way out on the right side of the bell curve of >75s who are comfortable doing pretty much everything online.

    Counter example: My ILs are way to the left side of that curve. Maybe worse than the group on that Progressive Insurance commercial where the guy is going to teach a group how to open a pdf (which I’m assuming is an email attachment). If the info is not in the body of an email, forget about them getting the info. And if they do click a link to the state/county website, forget about them navigating that to actually sign up. So their one nearby daughter or one of the 4 nearby grandkids has to do it for them.

  92. Mafalda, thanks for that information. My dad was given the online portal and phone contacts yesterday and I will pass along the advice. He is pretty good at making a pest of himself. And he is at the extreme right tail of online adeptness.

  93. I signed up for alerts but haven’t gotten anything. In NY, teachers and daycare workers are in the current cohort along with police officers and other workers who deal with the public. They clarified whether college instructors qualified – the language now says “in-person college instructors”. I don’t have a face-to-face class this semester so I don’t think I fall into the cohort, although I know one colleague who signed up for an appt with the NYC hospital systems and he said they didn’t ask. Our school superintendant told us on Monday that he managed to snag an appointment but has to go to the Javits Center in NYC to get it.
    I have heard the prediction that it will take at least 14 weeks to get through the current cohort. Supply seems to be the big issue now.

  94. LfB,

    I hate to be captain obvious but why didn’t you just go for a scenic drive on Saturday and Sunday?

  95. The less tech savvy people are definitely at a disadvantage. My parents are so afraid of getting their data stolen that they would be wary of clicking on a link within an email. As Fred said, if it isn’t in the body of the email, the chances of them seeing it is low.

    And it is surprisingly what tech things throw someone off. I’d consider my MIL to be very tech savvy. However, yesterday she notified us that she might have covid. She is down in Florida now, so she is out of her medical comfort zone. Instead of getting tested she said she’d just stay home. She said she looked around, but it is so difficult to get a test, and it isn’t easy like up here. I went to google and within 10 seconds had several locations within 15 minutes of her, all with available same day appointments. Sent it to her, and she went (awaiting results now).

  96. 3 days in the corporate world already have me saying “eh, who cares if it does any good. As long as you can check it off your list, you’re fine”.

  97. In Illinois, the sign ups and alerts seem to be primarily at the county level. Friends in the collar counties who were part of the first couple of tiers (medical for 1a, teachers/essential workers and seniors for 1b) are reporting that it has been pretty smooth, tech-wise. Cook County had an embarrassing incident where they had to keep correcting the info they were sending out – but they only run it for suburban Cook, so I have mostly ignored how it has been working. The City hasn’t rolled out any kind of vaccine registration site yet. Reports keep coming out that Tier 1b (65+ and essential workers including teachers) will start getting vaccinated by the end of January, but so far it is just in the planning stages it seems.

  98. I’m glad I checked about vaccines in my parents’ county. We are a little uncertain how they can prove residency when they have Fla DLs, but I’m going to see if I can sign them up tomorrow. They should be able to get shots on Tues. From the county website:

    More info on Phase 1B from Governor DeWine Twitter Page Thursday (Jan 7):

    On Jan 14th, we will launch an online tool on coronavirus.ohio.gov where individuals will be able to see who is distributing vaccinations in their counties to what eligible group.

    On Jan 19th vaccinations will be available to those who are 80 years of age and older.

    During the week of Jan 25th vaccinations will be available to those with severe congenital, developmental, or early-onset medical disorders.

    On Jan 25th, we anticipate vaccinations will open up to those 75 years old and older.

    On Feb 1st it will open to people 70 and older.

    During the week of Feb 1st, we will begin to vaccinate our school personnel. This week we are sending forms to be signed by superintendents – we are asking them to agree to go back to full in-person or hybrid learning by March 1st. That is a condition of getting the vaccine.

    On Feb 8th, the vaccinations will be available to those 65 and older.

  99. “Laura (piling on … to use an old football term) – there were the mornings!”

    Hang on for a second while I pull the dagger out of my back . . . .

    Weekend mornings are my valuable robe-in-chair-watching-Macgyver time.

    Besides, they’re closed on the weekend.

    In any event, I’m back, there was no line, and this time it took, so I’m clear until September 2022. Go figure.

  100. “During the week of Feb 1st, we will begin to vaccinate our school personnel. This week we are sending forms to be signed by superintendents – we are asking them to agree to go back to full in-person or hybrid learning by March 1st. That is a condition of getting the vaccine.”

    Wait, is this for all schools in Florida? Do they really think they can get enough school personnel vaccinated by March 1 to reopen schools???

  101. Mooshi, my parents are back in Ohio. That’s from their county there. What do you think of requiring a commitment to get back into the classroom in exchange for the vaccine? They don’t even know yet how long it’ll be effective!

  102. Laura – my helpful suggestion was in re Rhett’s idea of a country jaunt to boost the miles driven.

  103. Besides, they’re closed on the weekend.

    The eye-roll is that the last time I went, they weren’t able to get a valid reading, because I hadn’t driven the car enough.

    You don’t need to drive the car a lot that day you need to drive it within the last couple days. 100 miles ought to do it. If we were in Germany your car could do 100 miles in 33 min. If you haven’t driven 100 miles I wouldn’t bother to go.

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