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    If You Never Met Your Co-Workers in Person, Did You Even Work There?

    Kathryn Gregorio joined a nonprofit foundation in Arlington, Va., in April last year, shortly after the pandemic forced many people to work from home. One year and a zillion Zoom calls later, she had still never met any of her colleagues, aside from her boss — which made it easier to quit when a new job came along.Chloe Newsom, a marketing executive in Long Beach, Calif., cycled through three new jobs in the pandemic and struggled to make personal connections with co-workers, none of whom she met. Last month, she joined a start-up with former colleagues with whom she already had in-person relationships.And Eric Sun, who began working for a consulting firm last August while living in Columbus, Ohio, did not meet any of his co-workers in real life before leaving less than a year later for a larger firm. “I never shook their hands,” he said.The coronavirus pandemic, now more than 17 months in, has created a new quirk in the work force: a growing number of people who have started jobs and left them without having once met their colleagues in person. For many of these largely white-collar office workers, personal interactions were limited to video calls for the entirety of their employment.Never having to be in the same conference room or cubicle as a co-worker may sound like a dream to some people. But the phenomenon of job hoppers who have not physically met their colleagues illustrates how emotional and personal attachments to jobs may be fraying. That has contributed to an easy-come, easy-go attitude toward workplaces and created uncertainty among employers over how to retain people they barely know.Already, more workers have left their jobs during some pandemic months than in any other time since tracking began in December 2000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. In April, a record 3.9 million people, or 2.8 percent of the work force, told their employers they were throwing in the towel. In June, 3.8 million people quit. Many of those were blue-collar workers who were mostly working in person, but economists said office workers who were stuck at home were also most likely feeling freer to bid adieu to jobs they disliked.“If you’re in a workplace or a job where there is not the emphasis on attachment, it’s easier to change jobs, emotionally,” said Bob Sutton, an organizational psychologist and a professor at Stanford University.While this remote work phenomenon is not exactly new, what’s different now is the scale of the trend. Shifts in the labor market usually develop slowly, but white-collar work has evolved extremely quickly in the pandemic to the point where working with colleagues one has never met has become almost routine, said Heidi Shierholz, a senior economist at the Economic Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank.“What it says the most about is just how long this has dragged on,” she said. “All of a sudden, huge swaths of white-collar workers have completely changed how they do their work.”The trend of people who go the duration of their jobs without physically interacting with colleagues is so new that there is not even a label for it, workplace experts said.Many of those workers who never got the chance to meet colleagues face to face before moving on said they had felt detached and questioned the purpose of their jobs.Ms. Gregorio, 53, who worked for the nonprofit in Virginia, said she had often struggled to gauge the tone of emails from people she had never met and constantly debated whether issues were big enough to merit Zoom calls. She said she would not miss most of her colleagues because she knew nothing about them.“I know their names and that’s about it,” she said.Other job hoppers echoed the feeling of isolation but said the disconnect had helped them reset their relationship with work and untangle their identities, social lives and self-worth from their jobs.Joanna Wu, who started working for the accounting firm PwC last September, said her only interactions with colleagues were through video calls, which felt like they had a “strict agenda” that precluded socializing.“You know people’s motivation is low when their cameras are all off,” said Ms. Wu, 23. “There was clear disinterest from everyone to see each other’s faces.”Joanna Wu said her only interactions with colleagues were through video calls, which felt like they had a “strict agenda” that precluded socializing.Akilah Townsend for The New York TimesInstead, she said, she found solace in new hobbies, like cooking various Chinese cuisines and inviting friends over for dinner parties. She called it “a double life.” In August, she quit. “I feel so free,” she said.Martin Anquetil, 22, who started working at Google in August last year, also never met his colleagues face to face. Google did not put much effort into making him feel connected socially, he said, and there was no swag or other office perks — like free food — that the internet company is famous for..css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}Mr. Anquetil said his attention had begun to wander. His lunchtime video game sessions seeped into work time, and he started buying basketball highlights on N.B.A. Top Shot, a cryptocurrency marketplace, while on the clock. In March, he quit Google to work at Dapper Labs, the start-up that teamed up with the National Basketball Association to create Top Shot.If one wants to work at Google and “put in 20 hours a week and pretend you’re putting in 40 while doing other stuff, that’s fine, but I wanted more connection,” he said.Google declined to comment.To help prevent more people from leaving their jobs because they have not formed in-person bonds, some employers are reconfiguring their corporate cultures and spinning up new positions like “head of remote” to keep employees working well together and feeling motivated. In November, Facebook hired a director of remote work, who is responsible for helping the company adjust to a mostly remote work force.Other companies that quickly shifted to remote work have not been adept at fostering community over video calls, said Jen Rhymer, a postdoctoral scholar at Stanford who studies workplaces.“They can’t just say, ‘Oh, be social, go to virtual happy hours,’” Dr. Rhymer said. “That by itself is not going to create a culture of building friendships.”She said companies could help isolated workers feel motivated by embracing socialization, rather than making employees take the initiative. That includes scheduling small group activities, hosting in-person retreats and setting aside time for day-to-day chatter, she said.Employers who never meet their workers in person are also contributing to job hopping by being more willing to let workers go. Sean Pressler, who last year joined Potsandpans.com, an e-commerce website in San Francisco, to make marketing videos, said he was laid off in November without warning.Mr. Pressler, 35, said not physically meeting and getting to know his bosses and peers made him expendable. If he had built in-person relationships, he said, he would have been able to get feedback on his pan videos and riff on ideas with colleagues, and may have even sensed that cutbacks were coming well before he was let go.Instead, he said, “I felt like a name on a spreadsheet. Just someone you could hit delete on.”And his co-workers? “I don’t even know if they know who I was,” he said. More

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    The Work-From-Home Economy and the Urban Job Outlook

    Restaurant Associates is not the company it used to be. It has long operated restaurants, catered events and run corporate dining rooms for clients including Google and the Smithsonian Institution. Now it employs about half of the 10,000 or so people it had on staff before the pandemic.As its lines of business dried up, the company invented new ones. It has made soups and side dishes for the online grocer FreshDirect. It has delivered meals to displaced Wall Street traders working from Connecticut, and to guests attending “virtual galas” from home.Restaurant Associates is probably going to have to keep improvising. Just as things started looking up in the summer — with some museums reopening, businesses scheduling a return to the office, and catered galas bouncing back in full force — the Delta variant of the coronavirus brought everything, again, to a halt.“We were very hopeful that by September we would start coming back strong,” said Dick Cattani, the chief executive. Now, he said, “we don’t know what’s happening, what’s next.”This anxiety is widespread across the American economy. As Kevin Thorpe, chief economist of the commercial real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield, noted, “The longer the virus lingers, the more transformative it is going to be.”A critical question is whether the urban service economy — the restaurants, hotels, taxi services and entertainment venues that employ millions of workers — can recover from the multiple waves of Covid-19 that have kept their customers away.After months of social distancing and remote work, this will depend to a large extent on how employers and workers readjust their attitude toward proximity and density — toward space.Three researchers — José María Barrero of Autonomous Technological Institute of Mexico, Nicholas Bloom of Stanford University and Steven J. Davis of the University of Chicago — estimate that from April to December 2020, half of the working hours in the American economy were supplied from home. After the pandemic ends, they think, the share will fall to around 20 percent. That is still four times the amount of work delivered remotely in 2017 and 2018.And remote work will be concentrated among the most highly paid workers in the most densely populated places. For instance, over half of the workers in high-skill, information-intensive services — in finance and insurance, information, professional services and management — were still working from home in January, according to researchers from Princeton, Georgetown, Columbia and the University of California, San Diego.Big cities face a dual threat of losing both their most skilled workers and the consumer service economies they sustain, the researchers wrote. “As a result,” the authors added, “they may shrink in size unless they manage to provide advantages that justify the costs of urban density when residential choices are set free from proximity-to-workplace considerations.”About 18 percent of office space in central business districts across the United States is vacant, compared with 12 percent before the pandemic, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Groupon, Twitter, United Airlines and other businesses are shedding office space. Some are rethinking their use of space entirely.Restaurant Associates, which has long operated restaurants, catered events and run corporate dining rooms, is working with about half of the 10,000 or so people it employed before the pandemic.Amy Lombard for The New York TimesAs its lines of business dried up, the company invented new ones.Amy Lombard for The New York TimesRestaurant Associates now delivers meals to guests attending “virtual galas” and Wall Street traders working from home.Amy Lombard for The New York TimesThe sports equipment retailer REI sold the corporate headquarters it was building in the Seattle area, meant to house some 1,800 employees, and is setting up three smaller satellite offices around the area, for workers to gravitate to if they wish. They can work entirely from home, too.“We felt there are moments when being physically together makes a difference but it doesn’t have to be all the time,” said Christine Putur, REI’s executive vice president for technology and operations. “We want to move forward with more habits, new norms — let the outcomes drive when and how we get together.”This reconfiguration of work is likely to reconfigure the American economy, changing wages and spending patterns.Google, for instance, is allowing employees to work remotely. But it will adjust compensation depending on the local cost of living. In a blog post to employees, Google’s chief executive, Sundar Pichai, estimated that some 20 percent of them would choose to work from home permanently. And the company developed a calculator for employees to figure out the effect on their pay.Mr. Davis of the University of Chicago and his co-authors estimate that the increase in working from home will reduce spending in city centers by 5 to 10 percent, hurting business at restaurants, bars and other spots that rely on the spending of office workers.“Some of the leisure and hospitality activities will follow those people that are no longer in the downtown area,” Mr. Davis said. But the spending of newly suburbanized workers may be different, including fewer lunches and happy hours than when they worked downtown.America’s economic geography looks different from what it did two years ago. New York City’s share of the nation’s employment fell to 2.8 percent in July 2021, from 3.1 percent in July 2019. That means about 375,000 fewer jobs than if the city had at least kept pace with the country as a whole. More

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    The Wedding Business Is Booming, a Short-Term Jolt to the Economy

    Meg Van Dyke, who runs a Pittsburgh wedding planning company, spent a recent weeknight frantically calling photographers for a May 2022 wedding. All eight who fit her couple’s criteria were fully booked.“I’ve never had a problem finding vendors before,” she said. “It’s absolutely booming.”Weddings are roaring back after a pandemic-induced slump, leading to booked-up venues, a dearth of photographers and rising prices on catered dinners. As demand picks up, it’s providing an additional jolt of spending to the U.S. economy.The race to the aisle is payback after a lost year of ceremonies. As lockdowns swept the nation, weddings slowed abruptly at the onset of the pandemic. Shane McMurray, founder of The Wedding Report, estimates that 1.3 million marriages took place in the United States last year, compared with the typical 2.1 million. Those were often “micro-weddings,” according to industry insiders, with just a handful of guests, if any were present at all.That’s turning around sharply. Weddings have not quite returned to normal for 2021, but they are quickly rebounding, and Mr. McMurray forecasts that next year they will jump to the highest level since the 1980s as engaged couples who have waited out a global pandemic finally tie the knot.Weddings Are Picking Up After a Pandemic SlumpThey are expected to jump sharply in 2022, to levels last seen nearly 40 years ago.

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    Weddings in the United States by Year
    Source: The Wedding ReportBy The New York TimesOnce that pent-up demand plays out, he expects that long-running trends like cohabitation without marriage will come to dominate.Many economists agree. “My instinct, immediately, is: This is not a marriage boom; this is a wedding boom,” said Jessamyn Schaller, an economist at Claremont McKenna College. She added that even with the short-term pop, there were likely to be fewer marriages than there would have been had the pandemic never happened.In other words, the wedding boom is probably a blip.Marriage rates have been dropping for decades, and hit a record low of 6.1 per 1,000 people in 2019, down from 8.2 in 2000. The decline has come alongside a drop in fertility, which also hit a new low before the onset of the coronavirus.What the wedding rebound could do is lay the groundwork for a brief post-pandemic baby bump, since couples often wait to exchange vows before they have children.Lyman Stone, a research fellow at the Institute for Family Studies, tracks fertility intentions in surveys and keeps a close eye on state-level birth data. A baby bust that took hold after the pandemic started already appears to be turning around, much faster than expected.“It is a rapid return to normal,” Mr. Stone said. The nascent wedding rush “probably means that we have a couple of years here where we have somewhat more positive fertility than was previously expected.”Workers erecting a tent for the wedding of Ariana Papier and Andrew Jenzer in Richmond, Mass., a town in the Berkshires.Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York TimesMagdalena Mieczkowska, a wedding planner, has seen demand take off for events in 2022.Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York TimesMike Moreno, a sous chef, preparing chickens for Ms. Papier’s wedding this month, which had been postponed from June 2020.Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York TimesVendors are charging more for catered meals and cutlery rentals.Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York TimesLest onlookers get too excited, Mr. Stone points out that what was expected was a slow decline in births..And Melissa Kearney, an economist at the University of Maryland, cautioned that the early signs of a fertility rebound playing out now could be a false signal, since the pandemic is still playing out and it will take time to see how birth trends shape up.But Adam Ozimek, chief economist at the freelance job site Upwork, thinks that many economists might be taking too dim of a view of the pandemic’s ability to put America on a different social trajectory. He hasn’t penciled in a big increase in marriage, but he does think that younger adults may change their ways in the wake of the crisis.People have saved a lot of money during the pandemic, thanks to long months at home, a rising stock market and repeated checks from the government. Remote work and the shift toward more work from home have introduced new geographic flexibility for many young adults.Millennials who had been delaying home buying, for instance, may now have an opening.“That’s a pretty good recipe for stronger household formation,” Mr. Ozimek said, referring to what happens when adults move out on their own or in with partners rather than parents or, in some cases, roommates. “You can afford to buy your own house, start your own family.”If that was to play out on any substantial scale, it would have big implications for the economy. Millennials are the nation’s largest generation. Any change in homeownership, marriage or fertility rates among this group would fuel spending on everything from outdoor grills and washing machines to day care.But it will take years to see whether the pandemic marked some sort of turning point for American family life.What is clear now is that it pushed back ceremonies, making for a short-term spending boost on cakes, china, dresses, hair, makeup and photographers — a source of bottlenecks, but also a welcome recovery for some vendors who saw business drop precipitously amid lockdowns.Ms. Van Dyke in Pittsburgh said brides with their hearts set on prized venues — like the downtown Omni William Penn Hotel — are setting their ceremony dates in 2023 as they compete for dates. In Washington, D.C., the sweet shop Baked & Wired went from selling tiny six-inch cakes during the pandemic to receiving more orders than it can accept for Razmanian Devil wedding cakes: tiered layers of lemon cake filled with raspberry jam and topped with buttercream.“It’s Tuesday, and they’re like, ‘Hey, can I get a wedding cake for Saturday?’” said Teresa Velazquez, the shop’s owner. “We’ve waited this long — let’s throw it together and get married.”Township Four Foristry & Home in Pittsfield, Mass., has temporarily closed its retail store to focus on a surge in wedding customers.Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York TimesNathan Hanford, a co-owner of Township Four, assembling bouquets for a wedding.Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York TimesThis season has been a welcome rebound for vendors whose business dropped during lockdowns.Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York TimesJacquelyn Potter had been booked as the photographer for Ms. Papier’s postponed 2020 wedding. Now, surging demand is leading to booked-up venues, a dearth of photographers and rising prices.Ilana Panich-Linsman for The New York TimesMarvin Alexander, a makeup artist in New York City who decided to shift from the fashion industry to bridal during the depths of the pandemic, is also seeing lots of last-minute bookings, including from rescheduled weddings. The events are often more modest affairs, with smaller wedding parties and guest lists, in a nod to virus risks.“I’m starting to see a few people being more comfortable about 2022, even with the Delta variant strong on our heels,” Mr. Alexander said.On the other end of the spectrum, Magdalena Mieczkowska, a wedding planner, has seen demand in the Hudson Valley and Berkshires take off for big events in 2022. And clients are willing to spend: Her average was typically $100,000 per event, but now she’s seeing some weekends come in at $200,000 or more.“People were postponing, and now they have more savings,” she said. Plus, vendors are charging more for catered meals and cutlery rentals. “Everyone is trying to make up for their financial losses from the 2020 season.”Wedding industry experts said they expected demand to remain robust into 2023 before tapering back to normal, as new bookings vie for resources with delayed weddings like the one Ariana Papier, 31, and Andrew Jenzer, 32, held last weekend in Richmond, Mass., a town in the Berkshires.The couple had to cancel their original June 6, 2020, date, opting to elope instead, but rescheduled the event to Aug. 7, complete with signature cocktails (a bush berry paloma and an Earl Grey blueberry old-fashioned), a dance floor and s’mores.“We’re calling it a vow renewal and celebration,” Ms. Papier said just ahead of the ceremony, adding it was the couple’s third attempted venue, thanks to pandemic hiccups.“Third and best,” she said. “We are so excited.” More

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    Will the Pandemic Productivity Boom Last?

    Fewer workers are making more stuff. If it lasts, that’s big news for the economy of the 2020s.For most of the last 15 years, the United States economy was mired in a period of low productivity growth. Who would have guessed that the pathway out of it might include a pandemic?Yet that is what the numbers show. Since the second quarter of 2020, labor productivity — the amount of output per hour of work — has risen at a 3.8 percent annual rate, compared with 1.4 percent from 2005 to 2019. New data published Tuesday showed the trend persisted this spring, with a 2.3 annual rate of productivity growth in the second quarter.A different way to look at it: Since the pandemic recession bottomed out in the spring of 2020, the nation’s gross domestic product has more than fully recovered, with second-quarter output 0.8 percent higher than before coronavirus. The number of jobs decreased 4.4 percent in the same span. Productivity growth accounts for most of the wedge between those.What is less clear, though, is how much this growth represents real progress toward deploying the work force in ways that will make Americans richer over time. It’s a murky story — like any attempt to connect big-picture productivity numbers to what’s happening in the guts of the economy — but crucial for understanding the economic outlook for the 2020s.There are several parts to the story, and each has different implications for the future.The jobs lost were low-productivityIn terms of economic output, not all jobs are created equal. A worker in a well-managed factory with state-of-the-art equipment produces more economic output for each hour of work than a counterpart in a poorly run place with worse equipment.The differences are even starker when you compare productivity across sectors, and that’s where there is a clear pandemic story. Many more job losses were in low-productivity sectors than in higher ones.Restaurant employment, by contrast, was down 8 percent in the same period.Emily Elconin for The New York TimesFor example, on the eve of the pandemic, manufacturing jobs — highly productive, with lots of automation — paid on average $28.23 an hour, while restaurant jobs paid $15.23 on average. Employment in manufacturing in July was down 3.4 percent from its February 2020 level, while restaurant employment was down 8 percent.As people currently out of work return to the labor force, how many will take higher-productivity jobs vs. lower-productivity ones? That’s vital in determining the economy’s future growth potential.Doing more with lessThe labor shortage facing many types of businesses, especially in the service sector, is forcing some hard decisions. And in many cases, companies unable to return to normal staffing levels are getting creative.Restaurants are experimenting with people ordering on their phones rather than through a waiter. Retailers are offering more self-checkout options. And there is evidence that the difficulty recruiting workers is making companies invest more in training employees — potentially shifting people from low-productivity jobs to higher-productivity ones.Sometimes there are tricky measurement questions. For example, if a hotel charges the same prices but, with fewer housekeepers on the payroll, no longer provides a daily cleaning service, that arguably is a worsening in the quality of the product and therefore a form of inflation, rather than higher labor productivity.But to the degree that something fundamental is shifting in terms of businesses’ willingness to make labor-saving investments, rethink processes to be less labor-intensive, and move individual workers higher up the skill ladder, there’s opportunity for a productivity surge that outlasts the pandemic.Running themselves raggedThe flip side of this could be that the apparent productivity boom, especially in the first half of this year, simply reflects people working harder than usual.If a restaurant normally has 10 waiters for its dinner shift and cuts back to seven, each of whom has to work that much harder, it could look like a productivity gain. Fewer person-hours of work would be generating the same economic output. It also may or may not be sustainable.Having customers order with their phones, as at this bar in San Francisco, is one way restaurants are dealing with their labor shortage.Ulysses Ortega for The New York TimesBut perhaps people will be willing to work harder at certain jobs if compensation is higher. There is a theory of “efficiency wages” that suggests, in effect, that employers get what they pay for — that paying more means a higher-performing work force.“If you want extra effort, you pay people extra,” said Steven J. Davis, an economist at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. “You would expect to see some positive productivity benefits of compensating people to put forth more effort per hour than they normally would. Will it be sustained? Maybe if wages stay high.”The work-from-home effectIn the space of just a few weeks in 2020, millions of American workers who once commuted to an office most of the time learned how to work from home. It could have lasting economic ripple effects if even a modest portion of them continue to work from home some or all of the time.“Employers are embracing this as a long-term solution and taking the steps to invest in the appropriate technology to make it really effective,” said Julia Pollak, a labor economist at ZipRecruiter. “There is a lot of soul-searching going on and companies sharing best practices on how to create corporate cultural virtually.”.css-1xzcza9{list-style-type:disc;padding-inline-start:1em;}.css-3btd0c{font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-size:1rem;line-height:1.375rem;color:#333;margin-bottom:0.78125rem;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-3btd0c{font-size:1.0625rem;line-height:1.5rem;margin-bottom:0.9375rem;}}.css-3btd0c strong{font-weight:600;}.css-3btd0c em{font-style:italic;}.css-w739ur{margin:0 auto 5px;font-family:nyt-franklin,helvetica,arial,sans-serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.125rem;line-height:1.3125rem;color:#121212;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-family:nyt-cheltenham,georgia,’times new roman’,times,serif;font-weight:700;font-size:1.375rem;line-height:1.625rem;}@media (min-width:740px){#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-w739ur{font-size:1.6875rem;line-height:1.875rem;}}@media (min-width:740px){.css-w739ur{font-size:1.25rem;line-height:1.4375rem;}}.css-9s9ecg{margin-bottom:15px;}.css-uf1ume{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-box-pack:justify;-webkit-justify-content:space-between;-ms-flex-pack:justify;justify-content:space-between;}.css-wxi1cx{display:-webkit-box;display:-webkit-flex;display:-ms-flexbox;display:flex;-webkit-flex-direction:column;-ms-flex-direction:column;flex-direction:column;-webkit-align-self:flex-end;-ms-flex-item-align:end;align-self:flex-end;}.css-12vbvwq{background-color:white;border:1px solid #e2e2e2;width:calc(100% – 40px);max-width:600px;margin:1.5rem auto 1.9rem;padding:15px;box-sizing:border-box;}@media (min-width:740px){.css-12vbvwq{padding:20px;width:100%;}}.css-12vbvwq:focus{outline:1px solid #e2e2e2;}#NYT_BELOW_MAIN_CONTENT_REGION .css-12vbvwq{border:none;padding:10px 0 0;border-top:2px solid #121212;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-rdoyk0{-webkit-transform:rotate(0deg);-ms-transform:rotate(0deg);transform:rotate(0deg);}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-eb027h{max-height:300px;overflow:hidden;-webkit-transition:none;transition:none;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-5gimkt:after{content:’See more’;}.css-12vbvwq[data-truncated] .css-6mllg9{opacity:1;}.css-qjk116{margin:0 auto;overflow:hidden;}.css-qjk116 strong{font-weight:700;}.css-qjk116 em{font-style:italic;}.css-qjk116 a{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration:underline;text-decoration:underline;text-underline-offset:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-thickness:1px;text-decoration-thickness:1px;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:visited{color:#326891;-webkit-text-decoration-color:#326891;text-decoration-color:#326891;}.css-qjk116 a:hover{-webkit-text-decoration:none;text-decoration:none;}At the height of the pandemic, the vast majority of office workers worked from home. In the post-pandemic world, those jobs that most require in-person collaboration may return to offices, but those that can be easily done remotely may stay remote.“The important thing to understand is that it’s not that working from home is better for everybody, but that once the pandemic is over, the kinds of people for whom it doesn’t work very well won’t continue it,” Professor Davis said. “It’s a selection of people who have figured out how to make remote work work, and that’s where the productivity gains are coming from.”Empty office buildings in Midtown Manhattan earlier this year. How many office workers will return to their offices, and how quickly, remains a question, and one with big implications for productivity.George Etheredge for The New York TimesThere are several implications for the years ahead. For one, companies would be likely to need less office space, desks and cubicles relative to the size of their work force than in the past. That could mean higher “total factor productivity,” which takes into account not just the efforts of workers, but the capital investments that they use to do their jobs.For another, workers themselves say in surveys that they are more productive working at home — though not necessarily in ways that show up big in the official productivity numbers.A working paper by Jose Maria Barrero, Professor Davis and Nicholas Bloom that is based on a survey of 30,000 workers finds that widespread working from home could generate a 4.8 percent boost to productivity relative to the pre-pandemic economy, but that only 1 percent of that should be expected to show up in the official statistics.The reason? Much of the gain comes from time saved commuting, and official labor productivity statistics do not include commute time in the “hours worked” denominator.In effect, the pandemic forced a lot of innovation around office work practices to happen far more rapidly than would otherwise be the case.“The adoption of technology has accelerated, new firms are being created at an historic pace, and the shift to remote work is likely to outlast the crisis,” said Lydia Boussour, lead U.S. economist at Oxford Economics, in a note analyzing the new productivity data. “While some of the pandemic-driven efficiencies could take years to be fully realized, we think these four forces will lead to a sustained productivity revival in the medium run.”The future is always uncertain, and economists’ understanding of what truly drives productivity gains is poor. But for now, the evidence suggests that many of the key drivers of this particular pandemic bump aren’t likely to go away anytime soon. More

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    The Pandemic Changed How We Spent Our Time

    A lonely year Average time spent per day during waking hours, May through December in 2020 vs. 2019 No time 2 hours 4 hours 6 hours 8 hours Alone +57 min. With household members only +31 min. With people outside household –1 hour and 33 min. 2019 2020 Note: Excludes time spent on personal grooming […] More

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    Buy My House, But I’m Taking the Toilet

    In this seller’s market, some sellers are exercising their power with unusual demands and stripping their homes of fixtures and appliances as they leave.In a housing market desperately short on inventory, with prices spiraling toward the heavens, sellers can demand almost anything these days. They can even take the toilets.Toilets, particularly expensive self-cleaning ones with bidets, are among the hot items ending up on moving vans, as sellers flex their muscle to squeeze the most out of a sale. Sellers are taking their appliances, too, and not just high-end Viking stoves. They are claiming midrange refrigerators, stoves and dishwashers to avoid shopping for new ones at a time when such items can be back-ordered for months. Then there are sentimental demands, like fireplace mantels and backyard fruit trees; one Manhattan couple insisted on keeping the sink where their daughter learned to brush her teeth 50 years ago.Buyers, beaten down from relentless bidding wars, shrug and slog along. What else can they do? This is a seller’s world and we’re all just living in it.“Look, sellers have become more greedy,” said Chase Landow, a salesperson for Serhant in Manhattan. “Good inventory is rather tight and they know that they can control the show.”In June, the nationwide median home sale price was up 25 percent year over year to $386,888, while the number of homes for sale was down 28 percent from 2020, according to Redfin. The homes that hit the market last month moved fast — a typical one sold in 14 days — and 56 percent of them sold above the asking priceEven in Manhattan, where the market was slow to recover from the pandemic, properties are moving quickly again, with the number of sales surging 152 percent in the second quarter of 2021, and the median sale price up 13 percent from last year, according to a Douglas Elliman report.With so many buyers knocking, sellers know that if one balks, another one will be waiting in the wings, probably with a better offer. Comedians on TikTok and YouTube paint a comically grim picture of the desperate buyer — throw in the family dog, or pay college tuition for the sellers’ children, and maybe they’ll consider your offer.Mr. Landow recently informed some clients, the buyers of a $15.5 million apartment in the Carlton House on East 61st Street, that the sellers wanted to take the kitchen cabinets. All of them. “The question is what the hell do you do with them?” Mr. Landow said. “I have no idea, which is why it’s all very odd.”The sellers were willing to wait on their custom bamboo cabinetry, which the buyers actually hated, until the buyers renovated the kitchen, agreeing to come back and claim them during demolition. So the buyers relented. “This market is so bananas, you want to do what you can do to keep the sellers happy,” Mr. Landow said. The deal closed in early July, bequeathed cabinets and all.In any market, it is not uncommon for buyers and sellers to spar over light fixtures, window treatments and appliances, with million-dollar deals sometimes unraveling over items that cost a few thousand. Generally, anything affixed to the walls — cabinets, sinks and toilets — is considered part of the sale, with removable items like light fixtures and mounted flat-screen televisions falling into a gray area that gets hammered out during contract negotiations. If an item goes, it is usually replaced with a contractor-grade equivalent. But ultimately, a contract can include whatever terms a buyer and seller agree to.And this year, buyers are agreeing to some doozies.In East Hampton, the sellers of a $2.2 million house decided they wanted to keep a pair of fruit trees, even though removing them left two gaping holes by the swimming pool.Even the sellers’ agent was confused. “Where did that come from? The buyer freaks out, it’s going to ruin the landscaping,” said Yorgos Tsibiridis, an associate broker for Compass, who represented the sellers in the deal. The trees, about six feet tall, were a gift to the sellers’ children from a grandparent and, it turned out, a deal breaker. “She said, ‘Nope, if they don’t allow me to take them with me I’m canceling the contract,’” Mr. Tsibiridis recounted.And so, a landscaper showed up recently and dug up the trees in time for the closing, which is expected to happen in a few days.There are other factors at play beyond power grabs. Housing is in short supply, but so too are appliances, furnishings and building materials, as the global supply chain continues to sputter through the pandemic recovery. As sellers part with their homes, some of them look around and realize that they may not be able to replace the items they’re leaving. So, why not take them?During the negotiations for a two-bedroom co-op in Dyker Heights, Brooklyn, the sellers insisted on keeping the kitchen appliances and the washer and dryer. If the buyers wanted them, they could pay $10,000, a premium for secondhand Samsung appliances. The buyers were livid, as the demand was not mentioned in the listing for the $430,000 apartment.“They felt it was very petty and cheap to throw it in there at the last minute,” said Jack Chiu, an associate broker with Douglas Elliman representing the buyers. He said they would have altered their offer had they known the appliances were excluded. “It hit them from left field.”The buyers considered other apartments, but had gotten this one after winning an eight-way bidding war, following eight months of disappointments. “They were just so tired because they were outbid so many times,” Mr. Chiu said.They agreed to let the sellers take the appliances, and signed the contract. The buyers have started looking at appliances so they don’t move into an apartment with a stripped kitchen, but their first priority is securing a loan and getting approved by the co-op board so they can close in September.Other demands are purely sentimental. On the Upper West Side, a couple who have lived in their co-op apartment for decades looked at the Sherle Wagner sink where their now 52-year-old daughter learned to brush her teeth as a toddler, and couldn’t part with it. The decorative pedestal sink is hand-painted pink and green, and shaped like a seashell. “They know they have the upper hand,” said Sheila Trichter, an associate broker with Warburg Realty, speaking on behalf of her clients. “They know they are being absurd, to a degree. They know that they are asking for a lot.” The couple, moving to Florida, hope to install the sink in their new home.The buyers agreed to the demand, but instead of accepting a contractor-grade replacement, they asked for a credit toward the cost of a new one. “It’s all been friendly-ish,” Ms. Trichter said.And in Monroe, N.Y., Amy Wilhelm, a saleswoman at Corcoran Baer & McIntosh, was stunned when her client told her that she wanted to take the toilet in the main bathroom. “When I picked my jaw off the floor, I said, ‘I guess we could do that,’” Ms. Wilhelm said.The self-cleaning toilet lights up and the lid automatically opens when you walk in the room. But the seller wanted it for a deeply personal reason: Her husband, who had recently died, had wanted the toilet so much that he had jokingly filled a toilet fund jar. “This toilet was their running joke,” Ms. Wilhelm said.The seller disclosed her plans in the listing, turning the fixture into an oddity at the open house. Prospective buyers “were just so amazed by it,” Ms. Wilhelm said.On June 1, just days after the house was listed for $549,000, the seller accepted an offer, well over the asking price. It was one of six.For weekly email updates on residential real estate news, sign up here. Follow us on Twitter: @nytrealestate. More

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    Silicon Valley’s Best Pandemic Ever

    As the world reeled, tech titans supplied the tools that made life and work possible. Now the companies are awash in money — and questions about what it means to win amid so much loss.SAN FRANCISCO — In April 2020, with 2,000 Americans dying every day of Covid-19, Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive and the world’s richest man, announced he was focusing on people rather than profits. Amazon would spend about $4 billion in the next few months “providing for customers and protecting employees,” he said, wiping out the profit the retailer would have made without the virus.It was a typically bold Amazon announcement, a shrewd public relations move to sacrifice financial gain at a moment of misery and fear. Mr. Bezos said this was “the hardest time we’ve ever faced” and suggested the new approach would extend indefinitely. “If you’re a shareowner in Amazon,” he advised, “you may want to take a seat.”At the end of July 2020, Amazon announced quarterly results. Rather than earning zero, as Mr. Bezos had predicted, it notched an operating profit of $5.8 billion — a record for the company.The months since have established new records. Amazon’s margins, which measure the profit on every dollar of sales, are the highest in the history of the company, which is based in Seattle.After stepping aside as chief executive early this month, Mr. Bezos flew to suborbital space for 10 minutes this week. Upon returning, he expressed gratitude to those who had fulfilled this lifelong dream. “I want to thank every Amazon employee and every Amazon customer, ’cause you guys paid for all this,” he said.Mr. Bezos, who was not available for comment for this article, was the only chief executive of a tech company to enter zero gravity in his own spaceship in the past year. But Amazon’s pandemic triumph was echoed all over the world of technology companies.Even as 609,000 Americans have died and the Delta variant surges, as corporate bankruptcies hit a peak for the decade, as restaurants, airlines, gyms, conferences, museums, department stores, hotels, movie theaters and amusement parks shut down and as millions of workers found themselves unemployed, the tech industry flourished.The combined stock market valuation of Apple, Alphabet, Nvidia, Tesla, Microsoft, Amazon and Facebook increased by about 70 percent to more than $10 trillion. That is roughly the size of the entire U.S. stock market in 2002. Apple alone has enough cash in its coffers to give $600 to every person in the United States. And in the next week, the big tech companies are expected to report earnings that will eclipse all previous windfalls.Silicon Valley, still the world headquarters for tech start-ups, has never seen so much loot. More Valley companies went public in 2020 than in 2019, and they raised twice as much money when they did. Forbes calculates there are now 365 billionaires whose fortunes derive from tech, up from 241 before the virus.Silicon Valley made the tools that allowed Americans, and the American economy, to survive the pandemic. People got their jigsaw puzzles, air purifiers and digital thermometers delivered by Amazon instead of picking them up two blocks or two miles away. The consumer economy swerved from local to national.Tech is triumphant in a way that even its most evangelical leaders couldn’t have predicted. No single industry has ever had such power over American life, dominating how we communicate, shop, learn about the world and seek distraction and joy.What will Silicon Valley do with this power? Who if anyone might restrain tech, and how much support will they have? Wealth and the ability to command and control tend to produce hubris more than modesty. As algorithms and artificial intelligence rearrange people into marketing groups, it’s uncertain — to put it politely — how aware the tech industry is of the potential for abuse, especially when it generates profits.With the House Judiciary Committee’s recent vote to advance a series of bills that aim to reduce the power of the most dominant tech companies, and with President Biden appointing regulators who have sharp views of Big Tech, these issues are finally set for a wider debate.It has been a tumultuous 18 months, and even the tech companies are having trouble absorbing what happened.PayPal, the digital payments company, had 325 million active accounts before the pandemic. It reported 392 million in the first quarter. “The winds were blowing in our direction, but we had to set the sails,” said Dan Schulman, the chief executive.The wind was so strong it blew tech into another universe of wealth and influence.The Pandemic’s TailwindIn March 2020, Redfin shut down its 78 offices around the country. Its stock lost two-thirds of its value. Shortly after, demand for real estate started rising again. Jordan Strauss/Associated PressOn March 13, 2020, Glenn Kelman, the chief executive of the online real estate broker Redfin, was biking to work when he got a call from Henry Ellenbogen, a longtime investor in Redfin who had started his own fund.At Harvard, Mr. Ellenbogen majored in the history of technology. One big thing he learned, he has said, was that technology is developed well in advance of people’s ability and willingness to use it.“Tell me something,” Mr. Ellenbogen asked Mr. Kelman, according to an account the chief executive posted on Redfin’s website. “When people start touring homes via an iPhone, won’t a lot of them decide, even after this whole pandemic ends, that this is just a better way to see houses? And if this whole process of buying and selling homes mostly goes virtual, how will other brokerages compete with you?”Mr. Kelman, a little preoccupied by how Seattle’s normally bustling streets were eerily empty, said he didn’t know.“I do,” Mr. Ellenbogen said. “The world is changing in your favor.”This was not a general view then, and it certainly was not what Mr. Kelman was experiencing. The first confirmed coronavirus death in the United States was a nursing home resident in a Seattle suburb on Feb. 29. Within hours, home sellers decided that maybe they did not want strangers breathing in their living room and bedrooms. Buyers began to pull out as well.For Redfin, that was the beginning of a crisis. Within a few days, it shut down its 78 offices around the country. Its stock plunged, losing two-thirds of its value.“The magnitude of the decline was increasing every day,” Mr. Kelman said. He agreed to sell Mr. Ellenbogen more stock for $110 million, thinking Redfin might need cash to make it through a long drought. In early April, Mr. Kelman furloughed 41 percent of the company’s agents, who were salaried employees. More than 1,000 people were affected.By that point, real estate was already turning around. Instead of killing demand for housing, the pandemic fueled it.“The economy split in two on about April 7, 2020,” Mr. Kelman said. “One part of the economy suffered greatly, but another did just fine — the people who said, ‘If the world is going to end in the virus-filled streets of New York, I’m going to Connecticut or Vermont or Maine and I need a house there.’ What we thought was a headwind was a tailwind.”The pandemic as a whole, it became clear, was a tailwind for tech in very basic ways.When tens of millions of people were urged and sometimes ordered to stay put in their homes, naturally companies whose very existence involves facilitating virtual lives benefited. The rise of the teleconferencing company Zoom as both a verb and stock market winner was perhaps the easiest call of the year.“Call it half luck — being in the right place at the right time — and half strategic tactics by companies recognizing this was going to be a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Dan Ives, a managing director at Wedbush Securities. “What for most industries were hurricane-like headwinds was a pot of gold for tech.”Even companies that might have seemed vulnerable to stay-at-home mandates did well. Airbnb is a company whose whole existence was about going to stay in strangers’ homes. The pandemic should have killed the buzz for its long-awaited public offering in December. But its stock price doubled on the first day of trading, giving the company a value of $100 billion.Tech companies like Redfin that reacted defensively in March risked being left out of the recovery in April. The 2020 housing market, pushed by pandemic demand and negligible interest rates, turned out to be the best since 2006.Those furloughed at Redfin were soon hired back. Mr. Ellenbogen’s deal proved extremely lucrative. But an estimated 10 million people are behind on the rent even as eviction moratoriums start to expire.Mr. Kelman, more introspective than most tech executives, feels a little queasy.“Tech used to be delivering these wonders to the world, and all of us in the industry felt the human uplift of general progress,” he said. “With the pandemic, fortunes have really diverged and at least some people in tech are really uncomfortable about that.”Pushing Back“We went from being pirates to being the Navy,” said Marc Andreessen. “People may love pirates when they’re young and small and scrappy, but nobody likes a Navy that acts like a pirate.”Steve Jennings/Getty ImagesThe biggest, and perhaps the only, threat to tech now is from government.Tech antitrust reformers say the government response to the pandemic, including the national eviction moratorium, repudiated decades of entrenched belief in a hands-off economic approach. Now, the activists say, they will have their moment.“When the government moved in a robust way to keep everybody afloat, free-market ideologies died,” said Stacy Mitchell, co-director of the Institute for Local Self-Reliance, a research and advocacy organization that fights corporate control. “People now appreciate that the government can either make choices that centralize power and wealth or it can structure markets and industries in way that deliver benefits more broadly.”There are signs of pushback against tech that would have been unimaginable a few years ago, beyond the House bills. Ohio sued Google, saying it should be regulated like a public utility. The Teamsters, one of the biggest labor unions, passed a resolution to supply “all resources necessary” to help organize workers at Amazon. Lina Khan, who made her reputation as a critic of Amazon, was appointed Federal Trade Commission chair. On Tuesday, the White House said it would nominate Jonathan Kanter, a tech critic, to be the Justice Department’s top antitrust official.But there are signs of movement in the other direction, too. The F.T.C. and a coalition of state attorneys general saw their antitrust lawsuits against Facebook dismissed by a Washington judge last month. The F.T.C. can refile an improved suit by the end of this month.Any measures restricting tech will ultimately need public sentiment behind them to succeed. Even some of tech’s biggest supporters see the potential for worry here.“We went from being pirates to being the Navy,” Marc Andreessen, a central figure in Silicon Valley for a quarter-century, told the Substack writer Noah Smith in a recent interview. “People may love pirates when they’re young and small and scrappy, but nobody likes a Navy that acts like a pirate. And today’s technology industry can come across a lot like a Navy that acts like a pirate.”Beyond the threat of misuse of tech lurks an even darker possibility: a misplaced confidence in the ability of one loosely regulated sector to run so much of the world.Weeks before the pandemic, the RAND Corporation published a study on systemic risk and how a problem with one company can imperil others in its network. Systemic risk was a big issue in the 2008 financial collapse, when the government propped up some companies because their downfall might imperil the whole system. They were too big to fail.The research group investigated whether tech companies had supplanted financial firms as a key node in the economy, and if the economy was growing too dependent on them. Amazon, whose AWS cloud division has millions of customers, was highlighted.In December, RAND’s point was made when SolarWinds, which makes software that allows other companies to manage their networks, was revealed to have been infiltrated by Russian hackers. Since SolarWinds had so many clients, including Fortune 500 companies and federal agencies, the breach became one of the worst on record.Tech’s dominance means the risks are more concentrated than ever. There were problems at the security firm Cloudflare in July 2020, at Amazon in November, at the cloud provider Fastly last month and at the content distribution network Akamai on Thursday, all of which took down other sites at least briefly.These outages caused little concern.That’s typical of systemic issues, said Jonathan Welburn, a lead author on the RAND study. “Before 2008, when house prices kept rising and rising, no one wanted to hear how they were being artificially propped up and why that could be a problem,” he said.Pushing Forward“When people are remote, I worry about what their career trajectory is going to be,” IBM’s chief executive, Arvind Krishna, recently told the BBC.Brian Ach/Getty ImagesThe pandemic gave tech companies the power and the cash to make aggressive bets on their individual destinies. Buying another company was one way to do this. Global deal values in tech soared 47.3 percent in 2020 from a year ago.Zillow, a digital real estate company in Seattle, spent $500 million in February to buy ShowingTime, a scheduling platform for home showings. A few weeks later, Zillow said it would hire 2,000 people, increasing its work force by 40 percent.But its biggest bet will take longer to play out. Before the pandemic, Zillow discouraged working from home, like most companies. Then last summer, it said 90 percent of its employees could work remotely forever if they chose.At the time, Zillow was in the vanguard of a movement. Now the idea of the non-virtual office is re-exerting its pull with managers.Amazon says its plan “is to return to an office-centric culture as our baseline.” Google asserted the same thing, although it backed off after workers rebelled. IBM says 80 percent of its employees will be in the office at least three days a week.“When people are remote, I worry about what their career trajectory is going to be,” IBM’s chief executive, Arvind Krishna, told the BBC.Zillow is something of an outlier. Even after a year of working from home, 59 percent of its employees told the company they planned to go into the office once a month or less.This may be the pandemic’s ultimate tailwind: not just the future coming much faster to your company, but actively pushing your company faster into the future. It is a risk that might be easier to undertake if your market value has suddenly tripled the way Zillow’s did.If Zillow is wrong about the future and employees are less bound to an office they visit only virtually, the company will stumble. If it is right, it will increase its workers’ loyalty and outdistance earthbound competitors.“The pandemic forced change on all of us,” said Jeremy Wacksman, Zillow’s chief operating officer. “We didn’t wish for it but now we’re learning from it.”More than a third of Zillow employees moved in the year that began in March 2020. Many moves were from one part of Seattle’s metro area to another, indicating a general reluctance not to get so far away from the office you could not drive there. But other employees dispersed to New Mexico, Mississippi and Alabama. Nine moved to Hawaii.“They liked their job but wanted to go somewhere else. That used to be a problem. Now it’s not,” said Viet Shelton, a Zillow spokesman who, as it happens, just moved to Manhattan from Seattle because he always wanted to live in New York.Now that employees no longer have to live where Zillow has an office, interest has swelled. More than 55,000 applied to work at Zillow in the first quarter, up 51 percent from the prepandemic level and about 10 applicants for every person employed there. Zillow has hired more recruiters to deal with the onslaught.Over at Redfin, the stock is up 400 percent from its pandemic bottom. Redfin paid $608 million in February to acquire a publisher of rental listings, its biggest deal ever. But while the company seems so rich, so successful, so lucky from the outside, it feels different within. Managing growth is almost as hard as managing a downturn.“Customers are clamoring for service and we can’t hire fast enough,” said Mr. Kelman. “Redfin never had a moment when it was absolutely and totally killing it, but I always imagined when we did that it would be more fun than this.” More