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Big companies are betting on a return to the workplace

As the pandemic has persisted, Silicon Valley tech giants have extended their telework timelines — and some have even said that employees can stay home forever. But now those same firms are simultaneously betting on the future of the office.

Why it matters: Remote work has been successful at many firms, but the vast majority still have strong office cultures. The pandemic won't drastically alter that.


  • "COVID changed a lot of minds," says Julie Whelan, of the commercial real estate firm CBRE. "That said, there are billions of square feet leased across the United States, and that’s not disappearing overnight."

What's happening: Office leasing activity in the second quarter of 2020 was down 44% year-over-year, CBRE reports. But it appears to be bouncing back, led by the tech titans.

  • Amazon is adding 900,000 square feet of office space in New York City, Phoenix, Dallas, Detroit, San Diego and Denver. And Facebook is expanding its New York footprint with 730,000 additional square feet in midtown Manhattan.
  • Amazon is also in the middle of building two large complexes to complement its Seattle headquarters. Its Hyderabad, India, building is 1.8 million square feet, and its Arlington, Virginia, campus — HQ2 — could be as big as 8 million square feet.

The tech giants' bets on the importance of the office appear to be shared by other big firms.

  • Per a CBRE survey of 126 companies, half of which are Fortune 500 firms, 70% are confident in setting long-term real estate strategies even amid the pandemic.
  • 79% say the importance of the physical office will decrease slightly or remain the same when the coronavirus crisis is over.
  • And teleworkers across the country say they’ve developed an appreciation for the workplaces they once griped about.

But, but, but: While the pandemic won't kill offices, its effects on where and how we work will linger.

  • Look for many companies to pursue a hybrid of work-from-home and work-from-office. 61% of CBRE's respondents say employees will be able to work remotely at least part of the time in the post-pandemic world.
  • That means those firms won't need as much space, and many will downsize.

The bottom line: "We’re changing why we need an office: It's the social interaction," Whelan says. "That doesn’t need to happen five days a week. But it still needs to happen."

  • As Jerry Seinfeld writes in his defense of New York City, "Energy, attitude and personality cannot be 'remoted' through even the best fiber optic lines."

Trump introduces Amy Coney Barrett as nominee to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg

President Trump announced he's nominating federal appeals court Judge Amy Coney Barrett to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg on the Supreme Court.

Why it matters: She could give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the high court, and her nomination sets in motion a scramble among Senate Republicans to confirm her with 38 days before the election. Leader Mitch McConnell appears to have the votes to confirm Barrett with the current majority.

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Confirmation hearings for Supreme Court nominee set to start Oct. 12

Senate Judiciary Committee hearings for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee are tentatively scheduled to begin Oct. 12, two Senate sources familiar with the plans told Axios.

Why it matters: The committee's current schedule could allow Senate Republicans to confirm the nominee weeks before November's election. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell currently has enough votes to confirm Circuit Court Judge Amy Coney Barrett, who is expected as the president's pick.

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A hinge moment for America's role in the world

The world may be living through the last gasps of America First— or just getting a taste of what's to come.

Why it matters: President Trump's message at this week's virtual UN General Assembly was short and relatively simple: global institutions like the World Health Organization are weak and beholden to China; international agreements like the Iran deal or Paris climate accord are "one-sided"; and the U.S. has accomplished more by going its own way.

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New York daily coronavirus cases top 1,000 for first time since June

New York on Friday reported more than 1,000 new coronavirus cases for the first since June.

Why it matters: The New York City metropolitan area was seen as the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic throughout the spring. But strict social distancing and mask mandates helped quell the virus' spread, allowing the state to gradually reopen.

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America on edge as SCOTUS, protests and 2020 collide

Rarely have national security officials, governors, tech CEOs and activists agreed as broadly and fervently as they do about the possibility of historic civil unrest in America.

Why it matters: The ingredients are clear for all to see — epic fights over racism, abortion, elections, the virus and policing, stirred by misinformation and calls to action on social media, at a time of stress over the pandemic.

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The long-term pain of the mental health pandemic

A less visible but still massive trauma caused by the coronavirus is becoming clear: our mental health is suffering with potentially long-lasting consequences.

Why it matters: Mental health disorders that range from schizophrenia to depression and anxiety exert a severe cost on personal health and the economy. Addressing that challenge may require out-of-the-box solutions.

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Preview: "Axios on HBO" interviews Bob Woodward

On the next episode of "Axios on HBO," journalist Bob Woodward tells Axios National Political Correspondent Jonathan Swan why he spoke out about President Trump being the "wrong man for the job."

  • "I did not want to join the ranks of the Senate Republicans who know that Trump is the wrong man for the job, but won't say it publicly," Woodward said.

Catch the full interview on Monday, Sept. 28 at 11 p.m. ET/PT on all HBO platforms.

Trump picks Amy Coney Barrett to replace Ruth Bader Ginsburg on Supreme Court

Judge Amy Coney Barrett — expected to be named by President Trump today to succeed Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg — would give conservatives a 6-3 majority on the Supreme Court, and an edge on issues from abortion to the limits of presidential power.

The big picture: Republicans love the federal appeals court judge's age — she is only 48 — and her record as a steadfast social conservative.

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