According to the WHO (World Health Organization), long-working hours are directly attributed to the death’s of thousands, upon thousands, upon thousands in global cities (check out this past year, alone). We’re talking about nearly a million people in 2016 alone. The study – again conducted by the incredibly prestigious WHO and cited in BBC News – has some truly alarming statistics. This global survey contains data that is some of the first of its kind and begins gathering data to reach the hypothesis that was likely reached as early as 2016 (BBC News Service).
As this research was being conducted all the way dating back to 2016, it’s vital to note this takes into account labor market conditions mostly prior to the global, COVID-19 pandemic. Following the aftermath of the pandemic, we’ve seen companies adapt more of a hybrid office schedule for employees. We’ve even seen some companies abandon office schedules altogether (at least for the time being). Perhaps once these working conditions began, it was somewhat refreshing to those who commuted to the office everyday. However, as other studies have shown, while many really didn’t mind working from home, some individuals who were previously content with their weekly schedules became increasingly uncomfortable. Nonetheless, as labor market conditions are returning closer to pre-pandemic times, we can likely expect to see a bit more hybrid working schedules, but largely the same pre-pandemic conditions as in 2016 (BBC News Service).
Some Alarming Conclusions
Referring back to that 2016 study done by the WHO and initially reported on by BBC News, of the various alarming statistics, the very first one jumps out: 745,000 people died in 2016 as a result of stroke and heart disease due to long working hours. The article goes on to cite several egregious examples of worker abuse. Lora Jones, a 22 year-old described her initial role at a digital marketing firm as “cult-like”, regarding their adherence to a 72-hour minimum work week (Jones, BBC News).
While this may not surprise many, Goldman Sachs was thrown under the rug for overworking entry-level analysts. One report details entry-level analysts joining together to have a discussion with their managers at Goldman. They asked for an 80-hour work week cap, calling their current working conditions “abusive” and even “inhumane”. Nonetheless, in a subsequent BBC Report, Goldman CEO David Solomon had no problem with – now – a 95-hour work week. While applauding the courage of the entry-level personnel, Solomon noted “going an extra mile can go a long way”. Everyone reading this should understand the meaning of that pretty clearly.
Furthermore, the research compared those working a 55-hour work week with those working 35-40 hours. It found that those working a 55-hour work week had a 35% higher risk of stroke and a 17% higher risk of dying from heart disease, compared to those working 35-40 hours.
A final study, conducted by the International Labour Organization (ILO), concluded men were clearly at a higher risk. Specifically, they reported nearly three quarters of those that died due to working long hours were middle-aged or older men.
What Will The Future Impact Be?
BBC News continued with additional regurgitations of the same message; there’s a renewed interest in debating US working class conditions. Reports not cited by BBC show CEOs and executives taking great interest in the happiness of their everyday staff. With that, it’s important to note we’re not suggesting these BCC reports are fair portrayals of the average executive attitude, or average company culture. As we noted in the beginning, a key impact will be many companies adapting a hybrid work routine. This should appease both employees who don’t mind working from home and those who want to be in the office.
While hybrid work schedules aren’t necessarily great news for CRE investors, they are already a reality. This isn’t something companies are considering doing in the long-run; this is something several big companies have pledged to. The list is likely to only keep growing. These positive changes, combined with a renewed interest in publicly debating this topic, bodes well for the working class. For bullish CRE investors, perhaps not so much.