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Remote Work vs Offices: Which Will Win in the Post-Pandemic World?

Ever since the COVID-19 pandemic swept across the world, millions of people have transitioned to working remotely. But is this a permanent change? Tech executives seem to be very divided when it comes to the future of remote work. In this Motley Fool Live video clip, recorded on March 16, Fool.com contributor Jason Hall and analyst Bill Mann ask Wix.com (NASDAQ: WIX) COO and President Nir Zohar where he sees remote work fitting into a post-pandemic world.

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Jason Hall: Somebody that I think, probably the highest-level executive that I've seen that would agree with you is Netflix (NASDAQ: NFLX) CEO Reed Hastings. From very early in this last fall, in an interview he essentially said that he sees no benefit of remote and I think that's an extreme perspective. Then on the other side you have the Twitters (NYSE: TWTR) and some of the other web companies or tech companies that say they're embracing this as many people remote as possible. I think the reality is probably going to be somewhere in the middle. I'm curious, as this is evolving for Wix, what do you anticipate? Again there is the cultural implications where your headquarters is, and where your staff is in different places. That's going to come into play. But I am just curious as to what's going to — maybe not what the answer is, but what's going to inform the decision for Wix?

Nir Zohar: Well, first of all, we haven't made a decision yet. But generally we lean toward what we said and I don't see us moving to fully remote for sure, that's not going to happen. I think we will learn how to exercise more flexibility, but we will still prefer the face-to-face meeting, spending time together as much as we can. I do think that we figure out that it's not so bad to allow the flexibility. There's nothing wrong and the world is not going to shatter when you do it. We will be more prone to exercise it. I don't know if we are going to actually have this whole choose whether you're this category, that category. Full office, full work, hybrid, give it a cool name. You have to make a decision once every 12 months and then we can reassess how we arrange the offices. I don't know that we will be there. I'm not rushing to make a decision. We're going to talk more to the employees to understand what they want and how they think about it. I also fear another thing. I want to tell you one more concern I have and then I'm willing to make a bet with you. [laughs]

Bill Mann: I love it.

Nir Zohar: The one thing I also I'm concerned about is that eventually things happen with people socializing the office that don't happen when you are at home. If you're working hybrid, they're going to eventually be two class of employees. Not because we want it, because it's just going to naturally happen. The people who are going to be in the office, are going to be more involved and the people who are going to be remote are going to be feeling left out. By the way we've been talking, for example, we did talking with employees to understand what they feel about it. You get mixed responses, which just shows you how complex it is. For example, if you talk with female employees, some say it's amazing. It's easier for me to juggle family life. I don't know again, why the female employees are saying rather than the male which is dumb to me.

Jason Hall: Because society continues to lean that way and put the responsibility on women.

Nir Zohar: Yeah, but it annoys me so I'm going to keep on getting annoyed by it.

Jason Hall: I'm with you.

Nir Zohar: Other female employees are saying, "Listen, this is actually taking me back from a more equal place with my partner. Because when the kids come home, if my partner is out and the kids when they come home, suddenly I have to rebalance back to not being working because I can't really ignore them." It creates such a complexity. Again, it baffles me why this is something I'm hearing more from women rather than men and it's just dumb because it should be the same problem. But I don't know. I think it's super complex to fully figure it out. We're going to take the time to make a good decision, but I am willing to make a bet with you.

Bill Mann: We need stakes.

Nir Zohar: You determine the stakes. I'll offer the bet though.

Bill Mann: Very good.

Nir Zohar: This is March 2021. I'm giving it three years. The companies that said they're going to move full digital, are going to roll back. I think that also some of the hybrid companies are going to be rolling back. But I think that in three years from now, this is not going to be such a trending issue and most companies are going to be working from their offices. I'm basically saying that Reed is correct.

Bill Mann has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Jason Hall has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. Matthew Frankel, CFP has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool owns shares of and recommends Netflix, Twitter, and Wix.com. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

The views and opinions expressed herein are the views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Nasdaq, Inc.

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