Global economy rattled by surging covid cases as firms delay workers return
While the worst of the coronavirus pandemic may be receding into the rear-view mirror in many parts of the world, dipping commodities and stock prices in key markets show investors continue to be nervous about the surge in cases which has slowed push to get workers back to office their desks.
The price of oil used by analysts as gauge at times like this, has fallen to their pre-May 2021 levels amidst signs of a demand in demand in the key crude oil markets of China and India.
In Nigeria, leading firms are encouraging workers to take advantage of the second wave of covid vaccinations which has started in Abuja and could be underway in Lagos next week.
Many company CEOs are struggling to balance the medical needs of their workers and the health of their firms in the hope they can continue to reverse the devastating impact of the covid on corporate performance last year.
In the US, Apple is delaying the return of its workers to their offices till January next year at the earliest and many other top firms are adjusting their plans while imposing vaccination mandates on their workers.
The spread of the delta variant has forced many U.S. employers that had been hoping to get staff back to their desks after Labor Day to delay those plans until at least October—or even next year.
In Europe, where restrictions on people’s mobility have been eased in recent weeks, many employees are waiting for the end of the school holidays before they head back. In Asia, authorities have been cautious about relaxing restrictions that have helped to suppress the spread of Covid-19.
The statistics reflect this August lull. Workplace activity is still far below its normal level, according to mobility data from Google, which tracks the locations of its users.
The question for businesses and landlords is: How quickly will this picture change? Will this be a recovery without, or with only a partial, return—one in which workers remain at home, or come into the office for only two or three days a week—or will staff be back at their desks full-time in October?
The longer the process takes, the likelier the former outcome becomes, and so too the risk that city centers never quite regain their pre-pandemic zing.