CEOs are at the end of their wisdom figuring out how to get their employees back into the office as high levels of Covid infections persist even 18 months after the pandemic. This is the view shared by CNBC’s David Faber and Jim Cramer, who regularly speak with business leaders about return to work challenges.
“I still hear a litany of frustration from those who run large organizations because they are unable to get people back into the office,” Faber said Friday in an exchange with his Squawk on the Street co -Moderator Cramer. “I had lunch and dinner last night,” said Faber. “It’s just a never-ending topic. Some of these CEOs are at the end of how they deal with it. ‘How do I get people back in.'”
Cramer said a possible approval of a new Covid antiviral pill from Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics could be the “game changer we’ve been looking for” to make people less worried about getting sick at work to have to go to the office. Pfizer and the Swiss pharmaceutical company Roche are also racing to develop Covid drugs.
“When you talk to companies involved in the supply chain, it is often about absenteeism,” said Cramer. “People are scared. Maybe you will show up for work when it makes you less afraid. “
Merck and Ridgeback announced on Friday that they are planning to apply for an emergency permit in the US for their oral treatment for Covid after announcing “compelling results” in a late-stage clinical trial with unvaccinated participants. The drug molnupiravir reduced the risk of hospitalization or death in patients with mild or moderate Covid cases by around 50%. If approved by regulators, molnupiravir could be the first oral antiviral treatment for Covid.
Faber asked if people who did not want to be vaccinated against Covid would take an antiviral pill. “This is Merck. You know how to do exams, ”Faber said to Cramer, who nodded his head. “We wouldn’t sit here and question it. But there will certainly be those who do, I’m sure.”
The delta variant has recently led to a further increase in infections in the United States. While cases appeared to have peaked last month, the last seven-day average of new daily infections was still 114,243. New Covid deaths averaged 1,957 in the past seven days after hitting a recent high of over 2,000, the worst since March.
Corporate America has grappled with volatile cases in seizures and beginnings on how to get their employees back to work safely and whether to impose vaccination regulations.
- On Friday, PwC announced that it will offer all US employees, nearly 40,000 of them who can telework, the ability to work virtually from anywhere in the continent of the United States in the future.
- Many big tech names like Apple, Amazon, Google, Facebook, and Microsoft from Alphabet have postponed their return to work plans.
- Salesforce co-founder and CEO Marc Benioff said Tuesday, “We’re not all going back” to the office. Large corporation CEOs call him and say they want their employees to return to the office, Benioff said in an interview on stage at the Code Conference in Beverly Hills, California. Benioff previously told CNBC that he expects 50 to 60% of Salesforce employees to work from home even after the pandemic.
- Wall Street financial firms have largely recalled their office workers, with many of them having hybrid schedules. Goldman Sachs is also demanding that employees be vaccinated in order to return to their offices, following similar edicts from Morgan Stanley and Citigroup.