5 ways remote work is changing the economy for the better

remote work
Remote work has been good in many ways.

Now that vaccines and a massive stimulus package are here, the US economy is uniquely positioned for a great new era in the 2020s.

A major factor underlying the great economic potential of reopening lies with how the pandemic ushered in an era of remote work, which is likely here to stay to some extent in a post-pandemic world.

More than two-thirds of professionals were working remotely during the peak of the pandemic, according to a new report by work marketplace Upwork, and over the next five years, 20% to 25% of professionals will likely be working remotely.

Remote working has caused employees to rethink and better accommodate their priorities in life and employers to rethink operations regarding how they can best work with professionals and create teams, the report stated. But it also hasn’t been without some downsides, such as blurring the lines between work-life balance and causing increased stress.

Overall, though, Upwork found the shift to remote work in the past year has ultimately benefited the economy in five key ways.

(1) Remote workers are more productive

Remote and and online collaboration technology are proving to be helpful with hidden benefits like making teams work better together, reported Douglas Quenqua for Insider. Higher meeting attendance rates, more attentive managers, simplified communication, and more breaks are just a few of the positive changes.

It’s made many more productive. Sixty-one percent of workers said their productivity increased from working remotely, according to an Upwork survey. And an Upwork survey of hiring managers found 32.2% of them said they saw overall productivity rise as of late April, compared to 22.5% that felt it decreased.

These productive effects will only further develop as people adapt more to remote work, new technology is invented, and people will start remote businesses, wrote the report’s author, Adam Ozimek.

(2) Remote work has freed up relocation opportunities

Remote work will redistribute opportunity across the US, Ozimek wrote. Upwork estimated that up to 23 million people plan to relocate.

Richard Florida, urban studies theorist and economics professor at the University of Toronto, has a similar mindset. He previously told Insider remote work will accelerate the movement of families out of superstar cities into suburbs and the 1% who are seeking lower taxes.

“I have long said that we will see the rise of the rest, given the incredible expensiveness and affordability of existing superstar cities,” he said. “But it’s not going to be the rise of everywhere. It’s going to be the rise of a dozen or two dozen places.” These places will consequently attract new talent, changing economic development.

Florida predicted that bigger cities will see a resurgence, though, as the US inches closer to widespread vaccination, reshaped by a newfound focus on interpersonal interaction that facilitates creativity and spontaneity.

(3) Employers are hiring more independent talent

Employers have become more inclined to build hybrid teams made up of both full-time employees and freelance workers, Ozimek wrote. A November Upwork survey that asked about plans for hiring freelancers in the next six months found that 36% of hiring managers plan to hire out more independent talent.

Fortune 1000 companies in particular have been tapping into more diverse talent regardless of matter location, found a recent report by Business Talent Group, a marketplace for independent consultants. Independent talent has especially increased in the C-Suite. There has been a 67% increase over the past year in executives seeking independent talent needs, per the report.

This increases the talent pool and opportunities for workers.

(4) Remote workers are saving time and money

Without daily commutes, workers have more hours and bigger bank accounts.

One year of working remotely has saved people on average nine days from commuting, per Upwork’s research. And car commuters saved around $4,350, including costs to public from their driving.

The time and money saved could boost economic growth and productivity, Robert Gordon, economics professor at Northwestern University, said in a recent UCLA Anderson Forecast interview. The labor force has restructured, with high-paid people working from home and making the same income, he said.

“This shift to remote working has got to improve productivity because we’re getting the same amount of output without commuting, without office buildings, and without all the goods and services associated with that,” Gordon said. “We can produce output at home and transmit it to the rest of the economy electronically.”

(5) Pandemic remote work is different from remote work

“Remote work and remote work during a global pandemic are not the same,” Ozimek wrote.

Many of the struggles with remote work were due to pandemic circumstances – like balancing remote work with child care while schools were closed. In a post-pandemic world, these things won’t be a hindrance and remote employees will be able to revel in fewer interruptions, which Upwork found to be one of the most cited benefits of remote work.

Remote work also won’t always be done from home. Florida thinks neighborhoods will reshape as offices.

“Even as offices decline, the community or the neighborhood or the city itself will take on more of the functions of an office,” he said. “People will gravitate to places where they can meet and interact with others outside of the home and outside of the office.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Peloton, Oura, and Whoop: High-performance apps become a lifestyle and status symbol in quarantine

Oura ring on finger
The Oura Ring.

  • During quarantine, people with means have turned to obsessive health tracking as a hobby.
  • Fitness tech startups raised a record $2.3B in 2020, per CB Insights, and connected fitness raised nearly $900M.
  • As people learn more about their bodies, they’re letting the apps make lifestyle choices for them. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

When Adeline Cheng wakes up, she checks the app on her phone that’s synced with the chunky titanium Oura ring she wears to bed. While she slept, the ring measured her breathing, heart rate, body temperature, sleep quality, and movement.  

The Oura app displays her “readiness” score, meant to indicate how prepared her body is for activity that day. Combined with her “sleep” score and her “activity” score, Cheng is hoping for what’s called a triple crown, meaning all three scores are above 85. Sometimes she gets it, she said.

“I do work out quite a bit, so sometimes my body says I’m not ready,” she said. “And I’m not the greatest sleeper. That’s why I got the ring.”

This data-heavy morning routine is a relatively new one for the 40-something Toronto bank executive. In the last year, she said she was looking for a way to redirect the energy she previously focused on office life and social gatherings. Like more than 4 million other people, Cheng also picked up a Peloton habit.

“I think for a lot of people, health and wellness have become an important aspect of how they see themselves,” Cheng said.

The practice of tracking health metrics this closely, and purchasing the accessories to do so, has moved from locker rooms to living rooms over the last year. A category of apps, wearables, content, and workout equipment make up what’s known as the high-performance lifestyle (HPL) market, which has seen a boom during the pandemic as people with disposable income increasingly turned to tech to optimize their performance.

The last year has upended the the fitness industry’s status quo. Companies scrambled to keep up with the surge in at-home fitness, using artificial intelligence (AI) to offer personalized workouts and real-time feedback.

Fitness tech startups got the chance to snag a permanent foothold in the market. In 2020, they raised a record $2.3 billion, per CB Insights, a 30% increase from 2019. Several companies, such as fitness tracking app ​Strava​ and virtual training app Swift, hit unicorn status. The connected fitness equipment category has been one of the main drivers behind this boom, raising nearly $900 million in 2020 alone, Jake Matthews, senior intelligence analyst at CB Insights, told Insider.

Peloton
Visits to Peloton’s US website skyrocketed during the pandemic, via BofA Research.

Consider the popularity of Peloton, which saw monthly visits to its US site soar from two million in March 2020 to 10 million in November 2020, per Bank of America Research. An Oura spokesperson told Insider that ring sales doubled in the last year to a total of 300,000 since the company’s launch in 2018.

“Looking forward, as these devices, along with wearables and fitness apps, collect more data on consumers’ health and wellness, those that can use that data to create a more personalized, engaging, and effective fitness experience will be positioned to win,” he said.

This vast array of fitness companies collectively comprises the HPL sector. It spans several markets, according to Anthony and Joe Vennare, who are brothers, investors, and cofounders of Fitt Insider: The $13.5 billion self-improvement market, the $60 billion wearables market, the sports medicine market which is expected to surpass $9 billion by 2024, and the alternative medicine market which is poised to reach $296 billion by 2027. 

Companies benefitting from this boom include health wearable providers such as Whoop, FitBit, Apple Watch, and the Oura Ring; quantified fitness equipment such as Peloton, Row, and Mirror; meditation apps including Headspace and Calm; and accessories like the self-cleaning Larq water bottle.

Once the purview of professional athletes and elite tech circles, products like these have merged with the realities of quarantine over the past year, bringing many people face-to-face with tech’s ability to measure our minds and bodies in new ways – and it can be addictive.

Addictive and competitive

Patrick Schneider Sikorsky
In addition to his Oura ring, Patrick Schneider-Sikorsky wears a Keyto breath meter, an Apple watch, and an Abbott continuous glucose monitor.

Patrick Schneider-Sikorsky, 39, who works in venture capital in London, said his group of friends shares screenshots of sleep scores with each other in a WhatsApp group.

“Getting competitive about sleep is a bit ridiculous,” he said. He catches flak for getting better sleep than his friends, despite going to bed later. “According to the Oura, I’m getting three hours of deep sleep every night,” he said. “And they’re like, ‘How is that possible? You’re going to bed after midnight, and I go to bed at like 11:00.'”

Though Wanfang Wu, 28, said he uses the Oura mainly to track his sleep quality, he originally bought it to detect early signs of COVID. While working from home in San Diego, he read it was being used in a trial at Stanford University. Oura has also received a boost from high-profile fans including Prince Harry, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, and the NBA

“In my research for choosing a sleep tracker, the Oura ring was already on my radar,” Wu said. “But then once I heard about the COVID detection, and work-from-home happened, that’s what made me pull the trigger.”

Since purchasing the Oura, Wu has been focused on improving his sleep score, but he said progress has stalled. “I hover around 70%. I’ve been trying to increase that, to limited success.”

Wanfang Wu
Wanfang Wu bought the Oura ring to detect early signs of COVID, but now he mostly uses it to track sleep.

Using health data to change habits

In addition to watching out for a life-threatening virus, many people have learned what lifestyle factors affect their sleep, and are tweaking their diet, alcohol consumption, and bedtime routines. 

“My current hypothesis is I need a more comfortable bed and probably a more standardized sleep schedule,” said Wu, who created an Excel spreadsheet to track how certain behavior changes affected his sleep. So far, he’s tried dimming his lights after sunset, wearing blue light-blocking glasses for two hours before bed, using blackout curtains, drinking Yogi bedtime tea, and, most recently, a new mattress topper. 

“The glasses have helped me fall asleep faster,” he said. “The curtains help me stay asleep longer, but my sleep efficiency has stayed the same – at 70. I am waiting to see if there are durable results from the mattress topper.”

Schneider-Sikorsky, who in addition to his Oura ring wears a Keyto breath meter, an Apple Watch, and an Abbott continuous glucose monitor, said he’s noticed the days-long domino effect one evening of drinking alcohol has on his glucose levels, which in turn increases his hunger. Sushi, he noticed, also makes his glucose levels fluctuate.

Justin Flowers, a 33-year-old biotech manager in San Diego, said he bought an Oura and a Whoop and took up running during the pandemic. 

Justin Flowers.JPG
Justin Flowers bought an Oura and a Whoop and took up running during the pandemic.

“I’ve learned a lot about my body from both devices,” he said, citing the impact of late-night exercise, blue light glasses, melatonin supplements, hydration, and the effects of alcohol. “These are all things that my Series 5 Apple Watch, which I also wear, can’t tell me.”

Back in Toronto, Cheng considers her readiness score before having a glass of wine in the evenings. She’s noticed it boosts her heart rate, which disrupts her sleep, and hurts her readiness score the next morning. 

“I didn’t make those connections in normal real time, because I wasn’t getting a hangover,” she said. “I was ready for work the next day.” Now, she said, the Oura data will tell her that even though she may feel okay, her body is still struggling to recover.

“My ring told me this morning that I was delayed in readiness. And it said, ‘Did you have a late meal?’ I did. “It allows me to see how certain activities help me or hinder me for the day ahead,” she said. 

The quantified self as a status symbol

Optimizing health through tech has unwittingly become a pandemic status symbol.

Tech-health hobbies are something a small number of fortunate people have been able to do, said Elizabeth Currid-Halkett, author of “The Sum of Small Things,” which charts the rise of inconspicuous consumption among the aspirational class.

She told Insider that while many people have been under enormous anxiety and stress during the pandemic, turning to the Calm App to meditate during this time is very different than a grocery store worker not being paid enough and risking their life on an hourly job, without the time to zen out for 20 minutes a day.

“Weirdly, even those things that we’ve taken for granted as just simply keeping us sane in this time are still luxuries of being well off,” she said. “They’re very discreet pandemic-focused lifestyle choices, to be in your best health.”

It’s a trend Currid-Halkett doesn’t see going anywhere post-pandemic. “Those are things that people have turned to that will remain helpful in our lives,” she said.

Cheng, the Canadian bank executive, recognizes this and admits she’s self-conscious about the Peloton bike, Oura ring, and Larq bottle she bought during the pandemic. “I do feel privilege guilt,” she said. “I appreciate that I’ve become a walking cliche for upper-middle-class people.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Health and fitness wearables have boomed during the pandemic – and they’re changing the way we eat, sleep, exercise and drink alcohol

Oura ring on finger
The Oura Ring.

  • During quarantine, people with means have turned to obsessive health tracking as a hobby.
  • Fitness tech startups raised a record $2.3B in 2020, per CB Insights, and connected fitness raised nearly $900M.
  • As people learn more about their bodies, they’re letting the apps make lifestyle choices for them. 
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

When Adeline Cheng wakes up, she checks the app on her phone that’s synced with the chunky titanium Oura ring she wears to bed. While she slept, the ring measured her breathing, heart rate, body temperature, sleep quality, and movement.  

The Oura app displays her “readiness” score, meant to indicate how prepared her body is for activity that day. Combined with her “sleep” score and her “activity” score, Cheng is hoping for what’s called a triple crown, meaning all three scores are above 85. Sometimes she gets it, she said.

“I do work out quite a bit, so sometimes my body says I’m not ready,” she said. “And I’m not the greatest sleeper. That’s why I got the ring.”

This data-heavy morning routine is a relatively new one for the 40-something Toronto bank executive. In the last year, she said she was looking for a way to redirect the energy she previously focused on office life and social gatherings. Like more than 4 million other people, Cheng also picked up a Peloton habit.

“I think for a lot of people, health and wellness have become an important aspect of how they see themselves,” Cheng said.

The practice of tracking health metrics this closely, and purchasing the accessories to do so, has moved from locker rooms to living rooms over the last year. A category of apps, wearables, content, and workout equipment make up what’s known as the high-performance lifestyle (HPL) market, which has seen a boom during the pandemic as people with disposable income increasingly turned to tech to optimize their performance.

The last year has upended the the fitness industry’s status quo. Companies scrambled to keep up with the surge in at-home fitness, using artificial intelligence (AI) to offer personalized workouts and real-time feedback.

Fitness tech startups got the chance to snag a permanent foothold in the market. In 2020, they raised a record $2.3 billion, per CB Insights, a 30% increase from 2019. Several companies, such as fitness tracking app ​Strava​ and virtual training app Swift, hit unicorn status. The connected fitness equipment category has been one of the main drivers behind this boom, raising nearly $900 million in 2020 alone, Jake Matthews, senior intelligence analyst at CB Insights, told Insider.

Peloton
Visits to Peloton’s US website skyrocketed during the pandemic.

Consider the popularity of Peloton, which saw monthly visits to its US site soar from two million in March 2020 to 10 million in November 2020, per Bank of America Research. An Oura spokesperson told Insider that ring sales doubled in the last year to a total of 300,000 since the company’s launch in 2018.

“Looking forward, as these devices, along with wearables and fitness apps, collect more data on consumers’ health and wellness, those that can use that data to create a more personalized, engaging, and effective fitness experience will be positioned to win,” he said.

This vast array of fitness companies collectively comprises the HPL sector. It spans several markets, according to Anthony and Joe Vennare, who are brothers, investors, and cofounders of Fitt Insider: The $13.5 billion self-improvement market, the $60 billion wearables market, the sports medicine market which is expected to surpass $9 billion by 2024, and the alternative medicine market which is poised to reach $296 billion by 2027. 

Companies benefitting from this boom include health wearable providers such as Whoop, FitBit, Apple Watch, and the Oura Ring; quantified fitness equipment such as Peloton, Row, and Mirror; meditation apps including Headspace and Calm; and accessories like the self-cleaning Larq water bottle.

Once the purview of professional athletes and elite tech circles, products like these have merged with the realities of quarantine over the past year, bringing many people face-to-face with tech’s ability to measure our minds and bodies in new ways – and it can be addictive.

Addictive and competitive

Patrick Schneider Sikorsky
In addition to his Oura ring, Patrick Schneider-Sikorsky wears a Keyto breath meter, an Apple watch, and an Abbott continuous glucose monitor.

Patrick Schneider-Sikorsky, 39, who works in venture capital in London, said his group of friends shares screenshots of sleep scores with each other in a WhatsApp group.

“Getting competitive about sleep is a bit ridiculous,” he said. He catches flak for getting better sleep than his friends, despite going to bed later. “According to the Oura, I’m getting three hours of deep sleep every night,” he said. “And they’re like, ‘How is that possible? You’re going to bed after midnight, and I go to bed at like 11:00.'”

Though Wanfang Wu, 28, said he uses the Oura mainly to track his sleep quality, he originally bought it to detect early signs of COVID. While working from home in San Diego, he read it was being used in a trial at Stanford University. Oura has also received a boost from high-profile fans including Prince Harry, Bill Gates, Jack Dorsey, and the NBA

“In my research for choosing a sleep tracker, the Oura ring was already on my radar,” Wu said. “But then once I heard about the COVID detection, and work-from-home happened, that’s what made me pull the trigger.”

Since purchasing the Oura, Wu has been focused on improving his sleep score, but he said progress has stalled. “I hover around 70%. I’ve been trying to increase that, to limited success.”

Wanfang Wu
Wanfang Wu bought the Oura ring to detect early signs of COVID, but now he mostly uses it to track sleep.

Using health data to change habits

In addition to watching out for a life-threatening virus, many people have learned what lifestyle factors affect their sleep, and are tweaking their diet, alcohol consumption, and bedtime routines. 

“My current hypothesis is I need a more comfortable bed and probably a more standardized sleep schedule,” said Wu, who created an Excel spreadsheet to track how certain behavior changes affected his sleep. So far, he’s tried dimming his lights after sunset, wearing blue light-blocking glasses for two hours before bed, using blackout curtains, drinking Yogi bedtime tea, and, most recently, a new mattress topper. 

“The glasses have helped me fall asleep faster,” he said. “The curtains help me stay asleep longer, but my sleep efficiency has stayed the same – at 70. I am waiting to see if there are durable results from the mattress topper.”

Schneider-Sikorsky, who in addition to his Oura ring wears a Keyto breath meter, an Apple Watch, and an Abbott continuous glucose monitor, said he’s noticed the days-long domino effect one evening of drinking alcohol has on his glucose levels, which in turn increases his hunger. Sushi, he noticed, also makes his glucose levels fluctuate.

Justin Flowers, a 33-year-old biotech manager in San Diego, said he bought an Oura and a Whoop and took up running during the pandemic. 

Justin Flowers.JPG
Justin Flowers bought an Oura and a Whoop and took up running during the pandemic.

“I’ve learned a lot about my body from both devices,” he said, citing the impact of late-night exercise, blue light glasses, melatonin supplements, hydration, and the effects of alcohol. “These are all things that my Series 5 Apple Watch, which I also wear, can’t tell me.”

Back in Toronto, Cheng considers her readiness score before having a glass of wine in the evenings. She’s noticed it boosts her heart rate, which disrupts her sleep, and hurts her readiness score the next morning. 

“I didn’t make those connections in normal real time, because I wasn’t getting a hangover,” she said. “I was ready for work the next day.” Now, she said, the Oura data will tell her that even though she may feel okay, her body is still struggling to recover.

“My ring told me this morning that I was delayed in readiness. And it said, ‘Did you have a late meal?’ I did. “It allows me to see how certain activities help me or hinder me for the day ahead,” she said. 

The quantified self as a status symbol

Optimizing health through tech has unwittingly become a pandemic status symbol.

Tech-health hobbies are something a small number of fortunate people have been able to do, said Elizabeth Currid-Halket, author of “The Sum of Small Things,” which charts the rise of inconspicuous consumption among the aspirational class.

She told Insider that while many people have been under enormous anxiety and stress during the pandemic, turning to the Calm App to meditate during this time is very different than a grocery store worker not being paid enough and risking their life on an hourly job, without the time to zen out for 20 minutes a day.

“Weirdly, even those things that we’ve taken for granted as just simply keeping us sane in this time are still luxuries of being well off,” she said. “They’re very discreet pandemic-focused lifestyle choices, to be in your best health.”

It’s a trend Currid-Halkett doesn’t see going anywhere post-pandemic. “Those are things that people have turned to that will remain helpful in our lives,” she said.

Cheng, the Canadian bank executive, recognizes this and admits she’s self-conscious about the Peloton bike, Oura ring, and Larq bottle she bought during the pandemic. “I do feel privilege guilt,” she said. “I appreciate that I’ve become a walking cliche for upper-middle-class people.”

Read the original article on Business Insider

Millennial New Yorkers are ditching basements and roommates for luxury apartments at $1,000-plus discounts

New York City skyline
Plunging rents have put luxury living within the budgets of young professional New Yorkers.

  • Millennial New Yorkers are piling into luxury apartments amid plunging rents and concessions.
  • They’re upgrading their living situation in pursuit of more amenities, space, and the solo life.
  • As of January, rents were down 15.5% in Manhattan and 8.6% in both Brooklyn and Queens, per StreetEasy
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

$3,200. $3,000. $2,900.

Over the past several months, Brett Vergara had been watching rent fall like dominoes for apartments at The Brooklyner, a residential skyscraper that briefly had the title of Brooklyn’s tallest building around a decade ago.

Replete with a rooftop deck, floor-to-ceiling views of The Empire State Building, and an in-building fitness center, The Brooklyner was a far cry from the Park Slope basement he lived in when he first moved to New York, where bars blocked the view out of his lone window. 

“I was playing chicken with the fallen rent prices,” Vergara told Insider. 

Vergara, a 28-year-old who works as a UX program manager, said he shared his last Brooklyn apartment with three roommates, with his share of rent coming to $825 a month. He had been flirting with the idea of solo living for the past two years. 

“Part of me was torn between riding out really low rent for as long as I could and trying to figure out when was the right time to make the jump,” Vergara said.

The pandemic just so happened to be that time.

When a corner one-bedroom, which he said was priced around $4,000 when last listed in October 2019, hit $2,650 in February, Vergara said he decided to “strike while the iron was hot” and signed a lease for 66% off its pre-pandemic price.

In a city notorious for its unaffordability, the pandemic era has sent once sky-high rents plummeting, making luxury living by New York City standards attainable for those once priced out of such a lifestyle. Millennial New Yorkers like Vergara are jumping on deals they know won’t last indefinitely, upgrading to luxury apartments that suddenly fit with their budgets.     

Breet Vergara.JPG
Brett Vergara scored a corner unit in a luxury apartment for over $1,000 below its pre-pandemic price.

Rents have plunged amid a surplus of supply

When the city that never sleeps finally got some shut-eye, many wrote off the slumber as a city dying and traded in fast-racing taxis and towering apartments for sedans and picket fences. But for some of the young urban professionals who stayed, it was the beginning of a whole new life.

“The pressures COVID placed on the marketplace created a unique opportunity to secure leases in prime locations and great buildings for significant discounts,” agent Ryan Kaplan, of Douglas Elliman, told Insider. New Yorkers fleeing for the suburbs sent rental vacancies climbing, prompting landlords to lower rents in an attempt to attract new residents and propel revenue.

Rents in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens all had the largest year-over-year declines on record, dropping a whopping 15.5% in Manhattan and 8.6% in both Brooklyn and Queens, per StreetEasy’s January Rental Report. The median asking rent in Manhattan was $2,750 – the lowest it’s been since March 2010, when rents dropped during The Great Recession. Insider’s Libertina Brandt reported that rents are likely to continue falling throughout 2021.

While “luxury” can mean many things to different people, StreetEasy defines it as the top 20% of the market. Luxury rental prices dropped the most in Manhattan, falling by 11.9% to $5,642 from the second quarter of 2019 to the fourth quarter of 2020, according to data StreetEasy provided Insider. Prices fell by 9.7% to $2,935 in Queens during the same period and 7.5% to $3,937 in Brooklyn.

brooklyn waterfront
Units at Level BK range from $2,495 for a studio to $9,000 for a three-bedroom, per Street Easy.

In NYC, a golden standard of climbing up the apartment ladder is snagging an apartment in a doorman building. In January 2020, the average rent for Manhattan one-bedrooms in doorman buildings were $4,514, data from real estate agency MNS revealed. By January 2021, they had dropped to $3,718. 

Iliana Acevedo, senior vice president of new development at MNS, told Insider that they’ve been seeing millennials “not only upgrading to more amenitized buildings but also upgrading in unit size and neighborhoods that they were priced out of pre-COVID.”

Compass has done about 900 rental deals, the majority of which have been with millennials, since last March, Compass agent Ori Goldman told Insider. But he said he wouldn’t classify it as “millennials going luxury for the first time as much as just an extreme market drop, which means anyone who used to afford Manhattan can now afford the luxury.” 

A building with amenities provides a much-needed community

On top, or sometimes instead of, lower rents, many luxury buildings are offering concessions of two or three months free. 

Consider Vergara, who negotiated an 18-month lease with two-and-a-half months free, putting his net rent at $2,250 a month.

“Increased concessions and suppressed pricing allows somebody to rent out a nicer, more luxurious building, with more amenities and a better location,” said Joshua Young, vice president of market-rate operations at the Douglaston Companies. His firm owns luxury buildings The Ohm In Chelsea as well as Level BK and 1N4th on the Williamsburg waterfront, where rents range from $2,500 for a studio to $8,300 for a one-bedroom and amenities include an outdoor pool with skyline views of Manhattan.

Brett Vergara2.JPG
Vergara has a panoramic view from his Peloton.

Many of the experts Insider spoke with said the millennials who are upgrading covet amenities like an in-unit laundry, 24-hour doormen, pools, and gyms.  Air quality is also high on the list.

“The younger demographic is looking for service,” Young told Insider. “It’s really about the whole amenity package.”

That’s something millennials may have traded previously for location in a walk-up building, said Chris Schmidt, senior vice president of Related Companies, which owns luxurious rentals at buildings including The Strathmore on the Upper East Side, which has its own squash court, and One Hudson Yards, which features a penthouse longe and bowling alley. At the latter, one bedrooms can go for as much as $7,453 a month. In February, he said, Related’s rents were trending down about 15% to 25% depending on the unit type. 

Now, he said, a building filled with amenities provides a sense of community millennials feel has been missing in New York’s partially shut-down neighborhoods.

It’s what lured Vergara to The Brooklyner, but he said he hasn’t yet taken full advantage of the amenities because he’s staying cautious indoors, even with masked strangers, until he’s vaccinated. “It’s funny because those things aren’t even really revealing their hands yet,” he said.

Space: the most important amenity in a WFH economy

Both Kaplan and Schmidt said the search for an upgrade has seduced some millennial Brooklynites back to Manhattan, where they’re now finding the space and affordability they once left the island in pursuit of. Schmidt noted that Related’s buildings in Chelsea and Hudson Yards have been the most popular.

But Brooklyn isn’t losing its luster. Young said he’s seeing the trend the most in Douglaston’s two Williamsburg buildings, where there’s a feeling of more space by the water and nearby parks.

Juliana Goldman_Olivia Kenney
Juliana Goldman upgraded from a Manhattan studio to a Brooklyn one-bedroom.

Last June, Juliana Goldman decided to prioritize her living space. She was living in a large railroad-style studio in lower Manhattan “with zero light and super thin walls,” she told Insider. It was time to hightail it to Brooklyn, where she always envisioned herself for its community feel.

Her non-negotiables: an in-unit washer dryer and floor-to-ceiling windows with lots of natural light. “I’m a plant parent,” the 34-year-old founder of lifestyle and beauty public relations agency TGN explained.

Juliana Goldman.JPG
Goldman wanted more space and light.

She found it all at Level BK, Douglaston’s 41-story glass tower that shimmers over Williamsburg and the East River, complete with an outdoor space, steam room, and direct ferry service to Manhattan. At the time, apartment deals were just starting to come in, she said. While she declined to share monthly rent, she said she signed a two-year-lease with two months free. 

Trading up to a larger one-bedroom and brighter space was a game-changer, Goldman said: “It’s really helped having extra space and being able to create that working from home environment where it doesn’t feel like I’m literally working out of my bedroom.”

Space has always been a rare commodity in NYC, but the work-from-home economy has cast it in a whole new light. 

Many millennials like Goldman have been seeking an office space or a large living room that can accommodate a work zone, broker Isaiah Dunn of Compass told Insider. Common outdoor space, like a sun deck, also tops the list.

“People want to be able to have friends over when they want and not feel confined when at home all hours of the day, compared to pre-COVID, when you could just meet friends at a local spot,” he added.

Goldman said her space has become an oasis, as she spends her downtime vintage furniture shopping and decorating. “The energy here is better,” she said. “I just wake up exponentially happier every day because of my living environment.”

Entry into adulthood

Some millennials are opting for two-bedrooms with a roommate to further cut the cost of luxury, and some millennial couples are upgrading from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom for an office space.

But three experts noted a big push toward entry-level studios and one-bedrooms. Schmidt of Related said most millennials upgrading, like Vergara, are doing so to have their own apartment for the first time.

Take Lauren Mennen, a 31-year-old news writer, who was living on the Upper West Side with three roommates before the pandemic. “I’ve never actually lived alone,” she told Insider. “I took the dropping rent prices as an opportunity to start looking.”

In October, she found the studio of her “dreams” in a luxury doorman building in the Financial District with an “amazing view” of 1 World Trade Center, the Empire State Building, and the Hudson River. The building itself has a gym and a sun deck.

Lauren Mennen roof deck
Lauren Mennen found a luxury apartment in Manhattan’s Financial District with a roof deck.

She was previously paying $1,500 a month for a four-bedroom flex unit (meaning the unit was originally two bedrooms with walls added later on to create four). Now she’s paying $1,700 – a big drop from the typical $2,800 monthly rent the place normally goes for. 

Even millennials already living by themselves are getting upgrades. For some, it’s the first time they’ve had a wall between their bed and their couch.

Both Goldman and Ai Nguyen, a 30-year-old behavioral specialist, fall into that category. In February, Nguyen moved from a 300-square-foot studio on the north side of the Upper West Side to a 500-square-foot one-bedroom farther south in the neighborhood in a newly renovated 14-story doorman building called the Parc Coliseum.

It was the new hardwood floors, in-unit laundry, and price that sealed the deal for her.

She told Insider her rent increased from $1,730 to $2,043 for the bigger place, but she scored a deal with two months free. That puts her net rent at $1,700 – less than her studio. A StreetEasy listing of a one-bedroom of similar size in the same building came to $3,704 in September 2019.

A rebounding market

Developers and real estate agents alike agreed that winter, typically slow in NYC real estate, has been millennial primetime.

“We’ve seen a particular spike in absorption since Thanksgiving, and millennials are a large percentage of renters rushing back to the city looking to snag a good deal before the spring rush,” MNS’ Acevedo said.

But just how long millennials will be able to cash in on an upgraded NYC lifestyle remains to be seen. 

Schmidt said it’ll be contingent upon when the city fully reopens, and he anticipates more real-estate momentum as vaccinations continue. “That’s going to force a lot of people seeing these steeper discounts to make a quicker decision,” he said, adding that as soon as there’s a better indication of when the workforce will return to offices, rents will start to go back up to pre-pandemic levels.

Ai Ngyuen
Ai Nguyen now has enough space for her own dance and workout studio in her Upper West Side one-bedroom, which costs less than her old studio.

NYC is the only major US city that still saw price drops in the last month, according to Apartment List. But it’s slowing down – rent only declined 0.1% compared to the average 2.4% over the last nine months.

Young said he’s already seeing strength in the market, and has begun pulling back on offering “month-free” discounts last week. There’s also the cyclical nature of leases, he explained: Since many jumped on deals in the middle of winter, fewer people will be vacating at the end of March. Less supply gives buildings an opportunity to pull back on prices and incentives.

Some of those who nabbed a deal at what appears to be the bottom of the market said they’re also concerned about what their rent will look like after their lease is up. Nguyen, the Upper West Sider, said she’d likely stay if it only goes up by $200 a month. Any more than that, she said, and she’d be okay with leaving the city. 

Regardless, they all said they feel extremely lucky to have been able to move during the pandemic. “There’s a sense of guilty gratitude,” Vergara said. “I feel like I got away with something.” 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Your grandpa’s walking shoes are the latest millennial and Gen Z status symbol

walking shoes
Walking shoes are hot right now among millennials and Gen Z.

Walking shoes are getting new life in the soles of millennial and Gen Z men.

From Keen’s Uneek sandal to the Merrell Jungle Moc, these 20- and 30-somethings will don any footwear “that you could pilfer from a retirement-home denizen,” The Wall Street Journal’s Jacob Gallagher wrote.

The trend is born out of the desire for comfort over aesthetic during the work from home life, Gallagher said. “People just want to be a little bit more cozy,” Stefano Gugliotta,the 29-year-old behind the Obscure Sneakers Instagram account, told Gallagher. “I think that practicality is what people are gravitating toward right now.” 

Footwear is just the latest retail sector that the work-from-home economy has transformed, having already fueled the comeback of tie-dye apparel, the rise of the day gown, and a renaissance of the lingerie category. In December, both UBS and Bank of America noted the uptick in sales for footwear retailer Nike during the pandemic. Its web traffic was up by 36% for its first quarter, and then up to 40% for the next three months, per Bank of America.

Nike said on its December earnings call that it was seeing permanent shifts toward digital, athletic wear, and health and wellness amid the pandemic, and Bank of America said these trends aligned with its thesis on  the dominance of solitary leisure during the pandemic.

A post shared by Dave Walker III (Wavey Davey) (@lovesimplydave)

 

But some young adults who are no less into sneakers want something less mainstream. The walking shoe, with roots in normcore, the “average” fashion trend that rejects other fashion trends, is also appealing for being relatively uncommon among younger cohorts amid the now oversaturated sneaker market, Gallagher wrote. It, helps, too that they can be more affordable than expensive sneakers. Air Jordans can cost as much as $235, compared to the Merrell Jungle Moc that averages $85.

It’s not the first time millennials have redefined footwear as a status symbol.

The coolness of comfortable, ‘ugly’ shoes 

Footwear has long been used as a status symbol, but its symbolism has evolved as millennials and Gen Z have come to prioritize function over appearance. Both generations fueled the “ugly fashion movement,” which favors more comfortable, practical clothing, and dressing ugly as irony.

“Uncool companies are ideal for millennials and Gen Z to love, discover, and sport because they represent exactly what the younger generation craves: being different without looking like you’re trying,” Jason Dorsey, millennial and Gen Z-expert of the Center for Generational Kinetics, told Insider back in 2015.

“It’s easy to wear whatever the hot thing is that is all over social media for the one month it’s new, but it’s a lot harder to go on a different path and find the brands that are unexpected for you to be seen wearing,” he added.

Halfway through the last decade, Birkenstocks and LL Bean boots had garnered a youthful street appeal, considered cool for their practicality. By 2019, the same could be said of the No. 6 clogs favored by Brooklyn moms pushing a stroller down Flatbush Avenue, touted as an “ugly-chic shoe obsession” by the likes of Vogue.

A post shared by No.6 Store (@no6store)

 

The comfort over aesthetic is exactly what propelled much of sport leisure footwear that year, driven largely by Gen Z and millennials. Beth Goldstein, fashion footwear and accessories analyst at The NPD Group, told Insider in 2019, that the trend was largely a reflection of how the younger generation was working and living.

“A casual and comfortable lifestyle has become the norm, and we see this reflected in consumers’ footwear and apparel choices,” she said. “And, in some cases, sneakers are the new status items.” 

balenciaga
The fashion crowd favors Balenciaga Triple S sneakers.

Such demand drove up the prices of sneakers over time. Luxury kicks came to replace professional wardrobes as symbols of power, nonchalance, and creativity in pre-pandemic workplaces in Silicon Valley and the fashion industry. At the time, a tech CEO might have preferred a pair of $564 Lanvin low-tops, while for a fashionista, a pair of $900 Balenciaga Triple S sneakers, yet another staple of the ugly-fashion trend.

But popularity is the downfall of any status symbol, giving rise to the new. In a pandemic era, that’s the walking shoe. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Zillow’s CEO is warning that the future of work could create a ‘two-class system’ where those who come into the office are viewed as better employees

Empty office coronavirus
  • Zillow CEO Rich Barton discussed the future of work during the company’s Q4 earnings call.
  • A hybrid model could create a “two-class system” that negatively impacts remote workers, he said.
  • Others have echoed his concerns. GitLab’s CEO called a hybrid model “the worst of both worlds.”
  • Visit the Business section of Insider for more stories.

Throughout the pandemic, the buzzy phrase in corporate America has been “hybrid model” – as in, a new way of working that involves both remote work and coming into a physical office a few days per week or month. 

And while that model seems like an elegant solution for life post-coronavirus, there may be a hidden downside for employees, Zillow CEO Rich Barton warned.

During the online real estate company’s fourth-quarter earnings call on Wednesday, Barton discussed how Zillow managed the shift to remote work throughout 2020 and what he’s expecting for the future. While Zillow has been successful operating as a “cloud-headquartered company,”the company does plan to have some employees return to its offices, and that can present challenges, Barton said. 

“We must ensure a level playing field for all team members, regardless of their physical location,” Barton said. “There cannot be a two-class system – those in the room being first-class and those on the phone being second-class.”

What Barton is alluding to is that idea that employees who choose to report to the office either some of the time or full-time could be viewed as more dedicated and more engaged than those who choose remote work. Over time, managers may begin to view the employees they can see working in person as more productive than those who they only see over video chat. 

Other chief executives agree. Sid Sijbrandij, CEO of code-collaboration firm GitLab, described a hybrid model as “the worst of both worlds” in a piece for Wired last summer. Sijbrandij warned that remote employees won’t feel included and will have a more challenging time communicating than their peers who report to the office. 

Over time, employees at companies who choose the hybrid model will feel a shift from “remote-first” to “remote-allowed,” he said, which creates a world where “remote employees are not penalized for working outside the office, but are also not proactively integrated into the fabric of the company.”

Sijbrandij described the old, pre-COVID model of working as being one that rewards attendance rather than output and that many companies will be unable to let that go. 

His solution? An entirely remote workforce. GitLab, a $2.75 billion startup, has been remote-only since it launched in 2011. It currently has about 1,280 employees in 66 countries around the world.

Read more: How to get a job at $2.75 billion code-collaboration startup GitLab, despite a nontraditional hiring process where it doesn’t accept applications for specific roles

An evolution of the office 

Google headquarters

Zillow isn’t the only tech-driven company considering a hybrid model of work. Google CEO Sundar Pichai has said he expects Google to adopt a hybrid approach, but was clear that the future definitely includes some in-office work. 

“We firmly believe that in-person, being together, having that sense of community, is super important for whenever you have to solve hard problems, you have to create something new,” he said during a video interview for Time 100 in September. “So we don’t see that changing, so we don’t think the future is just 100% remote or something.”

Read more: Google is ‘reimagining’ work for the post-pandemic era, but losing its famously lavish office perks could pose a big challenge to its culture

Amazon Web Services CEO Andy Jassy, who will take over as Amazon’s chief executive in the third quarter of this year, told CNBC in December that he predicts most people will adopt a hybrid work model and that he expects the future of work to be “hot offices.” 

“My suspicion is that a lot of these office buildings will start to evolve from being optimized for individual offices or cube space to being hot offices where you decide which day you’re going to come in and then you reserve a desk,” Jassy said

Travel giant Trivago and cloud computing firm VMware have also said they’re adopting a hybrid model of working going forward.  

Freeing us from the old rhythms

Work from home

For Zillow, moving to any kind of remote work wasn’t initially a natural transition. 

The company has historically been anti-remote work. Zillow’s Chief People Office, Dan Spaulding, told CNN’s Kathryn Vasel last August that prior to the pandemic, the company viewed its growth and company culture as being defined by collaborating in-person. 

“I think there was a belief, that wasn’t just isolated to us, that if people weren’t in the office that they were doing something else, and maybe that something else was not being focused on their role,” he said. 

The pandemic, he said, has been able to “free us from some of those old rhythms.” 

Zillow announced last July that it would allow roughly 90% of its workforce the option to work from home at least part-time on an ongoing basis. Spaulding told CNN that the company expects some people will come in a few days each month, while others will come in three or four days per week. 

Zillow recognizes that “there is a balance between where people can be most effective and that balance is unique for all of us,” he said. Going forward, Zillow will rely on its physical offices as a space for employees to come work who may not be able to get much done at home, as well as a collaboration space for teams. 

Read the original article on Business Insider

Working from Home (Again) – Tips for a Healthy Lifestyle

Reading Time: 5 mins

Many of us are either working from home again, or never stopped since the first lockdown! It’s much harder to keep healthy when it’s cold and dark outside.

Here are some tips for maintaining a healthy lifestyle while you’re working from home. Hopefully these will keep you motivated throughout the long winter months.

  1. Exercise While Working From Home
  2. Eat Healthily When Working From Home
  3. Money and Health Tips
  4. Stay Mentally Healthy While Working From Home
  5. Working From Home Routine

Exercise while working from home

Exercise when working at home to stay healthy

Gyms are shut and many forms of exercise are off the cards for now, but this doesn’t mean you need to stop exercising altogether.

Something as simple as getting out for a walk or run everyday will improve your mood and keep you healthy. The best thing about this is it’s outside, so you can get some fresh air and maybe even some sunshine at the same time. Cycling is also a good option if you prefer it.

There’s also no shortage of online workouts you can do from home. YouTube has a wide range of workout videos for free that will suit all abilities. Whether a 20 minute lunchtime HIIT session is your thing or a pre-bed yoga routine is more your style, you’ll have plenty of options to choose from.

Eat healthily when working from home

Endless takeaways seem like the easy option and the temptation to regularly order out is only growing.

If you can, keep takeaways to the minimum or cook your own healthy alternatives to your favourite classics.

Keeping to regular meals can also help. It’s very easy to mindlessly snack while working from home – hands up if you’ve polished off a whole packet of biscuits in a day before!

Sticking to regular, nutritious meals will help prevent this as you should feel full and satisfied for longer after eating.

Don’t forget to drink water too. It’s very easy to find yourself on your fourth of fifth coffee without realising it, but don’t forget coffee is actually dehydrating. Make sure to balance it out with regular glasses of water. This is also a good way to keep you moving as you have to get up every hour or so to fill up your glass.

Money and health tips

Working from home can help you save money and improve your financial health. For starters, you don’t have the cost of the commute or the allure of after work drinks!

But, there are expenses to working from home and the costs could rack up quickly if you don’t watch out.

Electricity will be a big cost for many, now we’re at home all the time. To keep your electricity costs down, turn your power switches off at the wall when you’re not using them. You could also consider switching providers. Some – like Bulb – offer a referral bonus if you can convince a friend to switch too.

Heating is another big expense, especially with the cold weather we’re currently experiencing. Try and wear extra socks and jumpers (if your work Zoom calls allow!) rather than heading to the thermostat as soon as you get a bit chilly.

Where possible try and avoid ordering lunch each day, however tempting it might be. Although cooking endless meals can get tiring, it will help you save a lot of money, so your bank balance will thank you in the long run.

If you’re finding you’re not spending as much money – whether it’s from not commuting or buying lunch each day – try and avoid leaving it sitting in your current account. This will just increase the temptation to spend it when the opportunity presents itself again.

Instead, consider opening a savings accounts. Out of site, out of mind really does work. Your money will be protected and ready for you to spend when you really need it.

Stay mentally healthy while working from home

Seek individual therapy online to help your mental health when working from home

Lockdown and Covid-19 are getting most people down. A certain amount of this is probably unavoidable, but there are steps you can take to stay mentally healthy at home.

A good starting point is to stay connected with your friends. Arrange Zoom calls and virtual catch ups so you can check in with each other. You could even play a game or watch a film together to make you feel more connected.

Take some time each day to relax and switch off. A lot of people find mindfulness helpful for this. You can find out more about mindfulness here.

If you find yourself struggling more than usual, it could be worth seeking individual therapy. Talking through your problems and getting specific help and guidance can be very helpful.

Of course, if your feelings are seriously worrying you do speak to your GP or a medical professional.

Set a routine

A routine is crucial to staying healthy while working from home.

It may seem tempting – particularly without the commute hanging over you – to keep snoozing your alarm, but try and avoid this.

Instead, get up each morning and follow the same pattern. Whether it’s having a coffee, a shower, or cooking yourself a nice breakfast, the important thing is to stick to a routine and avoid lying in bed with your laptop all morning.

It’s also really important to take breaks and get away from endless screens regularly. A quick stand up and stretch every hour, will help avoid aches and pains while giving your mind a much-needed break.

Where you can, take a proper break in the day and get some fresh air. Getting out in daylight will make a big difference if your working hours allow it. Schedule this into your day to stop yourself from putting it off because it’s a bit too cold or raining.

If you’re struggling with productivity, or social media scrolling is distracting you too much, try scheduling in fun activities as rewards. This could be anything from a break to watch an episode of your favourite TV show after you’ve met a deadline or even a bubble bath.

It’s a good idea to mark the end of the working day too. Try to avoid checking your emails well into the evening and working anti-social hours. Instead, shut your laptop down and put it away until the morning once you’ve finished for the day.

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