COVID pandemic has 'permanent implications' for office structure: Economist Steve Moore

Changes to the office dynamic will have 'huge implications for commercial real estate,' Moore argues

Economist Stephen Moore explained the "permanent implications" of COVID-19, arguing on Monday that the "whole office structure is going to be different" as a result of the pandemic and the surge of cases of the delta variant

Moore argued on "Varney & Co." on Monday that the extent to which changes will be permanent will have "huge implications for commercial real estate, especially in major cities," including San Francisco and Chicago.  

He pointed out that Apple announced it is pushing back the return to corporate offices until January at the earliest because of the increase in cases and new variants, according to a memo sent to employees on Thursday, as reported by Bloomberg. 

"I do believe that the way we work, where we work, how we work has been permanently changed by this episode of COVID and the whole office structure is going to be different," Moore told FOX Business host Stuart Varney. 

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He also warned of "a lot" of other "permanent implications for the economy from COVID that are just still emerging to this day." 

The Wall Street Journal reported on Sunday that some companies are considering keeping offices closed for nearly two years given the latest wave of delays to return to the office due to the surge in COVID-19 cases. 

Intel Corp. CEO Pat Gelsinger reportedly predicted hybrid and remote work will continue for months and years to come. 

"There is no going back," the Wall Street Journal reported he said. 

Companies including Chevron and Wells Fargo & Co. have also postponed September returns, the newspaper reported, adding that tech companies including Amazon and Facebook have pushed back the return dates until early next year. 

Moore provided the economic insight on Monday as a growing number of companies announce employees will have to be vaccinated before returning to corporate offices. 

IBM is one company, which announced this month, that it would only allow fully vaccinated U.S. employees to return to offices, which are set to open Sept. 7, Reuters reported.  

The resurgence of COVID-19 cases and the new guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention requiring fully vaccinated people to wear masks have led companies to change their masking and vaccination requirements as well as alter plans on returning to offices. 

A majority of economists believe U.S. companies should require their employees to be vaccinated in order to keep their jobs or return to offices, according to a new survey released early Monday. 

Conducted by the National Association for Business Economics, the survey shows that the majority of those surveyed, or 79%, are in favor of requiring employees to be vaccinated against COVID-19 before they return to the workplace. Only 14% of respondents said they did not support mandated vaccines. 

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Moore says he agrees with the majority of those economists surveyed, arguing that "every private company" and private employer "has the right to require their employees to be vaccinated." 

He did, however, point out that he has a "big problem" if the government were to mandate vaccinations. 

"People have the right to choose whether they want to get the vaccine or not," Moore told Varney. 

He added that the vaccine mandate debate "is going to be an interesting development in the workforce, whether what happens to those employees who say they don’t want to get vaccinated, are they not going to be able to rejoin the workforce?" 

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He pointed out that there are several Americans "who do just not trust the vaccine." 

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Moore provided the insight on Monday as the COVID-19 vaccine produced by Pfizer Inc. and BioNTech SE has become the first to receive Food and Drug Administration approval. 

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FOX Business’ Ken Martin and Megan Henney contributed to this report.