WFH in your 20s is career suicide

Hey y'all. So I can't be the only one with this opinion out there right? I'm in commercial real estate and was at my first job out of college for a year when I got hit with a COVID lay off. The whole time I was wfh. I then took another job that was permanent wfh, thinking the reason the last job didn't work out was bc of the company's culture, not bc wfh is tough on entry level analysts to initially get trained + stay in the loop when deal flow picks up.

At my new permanent wfh job now for 6 months, team of 4 people all over the country and with deal flow having picked up I keep getting left out while they grind away. I've brought it up to my boss that I'd like to take on more tasks and he agrees but still none of the team really includes me. Working like 25 hour weeks over here…

At this point, I'm exhausted and am considering jumping ship. I still want to stay in debt/structured finance in my next gig, the way I am now and also was in my first job too. If I do this, will interviewers shut me down bc I've jumped too much?

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Comments (50)

Sep 13, 2021 - 3:20pm

It's fine to jump and it's explainable. Just don't jump again 6 months after you land the next job. I think it'll be a pretty easy sell. You got hit with a covid layoff, took this new job which you were really excited about and still are. But, you've realized you want to be in an office full time and as it's 100% remote, you are looking to move again. 

Sep 14, 2021 - 12:09pm

I don't think you should play the layoff card.  I think you should be honest that you are remote and want something more in office.  It prevents you from getting stuck in something similar and not need to come up with a backstory for the layoff

Sep 13, 2021 - 3:49pm

Yeah, I 100% agree with your comment/title.... you learn so much by just being in the room, does not work via video call (I'm in my 30s and cannot imagine having to learn like I had to in my 20s via wfh). This why office space will still be valuable long-term....

As to your situation... are the other 4 people in an office somewhere? Can you join them? Or is it really like like one in NYC, one in Dallas, one in Miami, and one in SF? If everyone is dispersed, seems like all would have the issue (are you the most junior/young?). Generally, no I wouldn't advise jumping, but in your situation, explaining to future employer that wfh sucks and you hate it, will prob earn you respect (and maybe a job). So, if it really is dysfunctional yeah I'd go (just make sure it really is unsolvable first). 

  • Director in RE - Comm
Sep 13, 2021 - 4:02pm

I think it will always be tough to start a new job with wfh. But wfh can be fine in your twenties if you have been with the team in the office for a couple years first.

Sep 13, 2021 - 7:12pm

That's the thing, everyone is so certain that WFH is going to be fine perpetually because they are all relying on the cultural and social capital they built up during the normal years. Coming in new is going to be so much harder. I started my job post-MBA WFH for 8 months before going into the office, and in the first month back I felt like I doubled my knowledge. I can't imagine companies lasting very long solely with WFH as the younger generation starts getting more and more into the depth chart, so to speak. 

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Sep 13, 2021 - 5:35pm

Not going to be the most encouraging words, but I'm in your exact position and I lose sleep questioning if I committed career suicide. Specifically for me, I'm an AM associate turned CMBS excel bitch and I think it's mostly attributable to the inability to build relationships with the principals/VPs over group zooms and being out of sight. Been trying to jump ship but what's compounding the problem is I struggle to sell my value bc interviewers always focus on my most recent experience regardless of how much I try to steer the convo to earlier years. Major setback in my career.

Sep 14, 2021 - 10:43pm

If you have the inclination it may be worth setting up "coffee" chats with principals/VPs even over zoom, it makes you seem super hungry and they love that and you can be top of mind for staffing. It can definitely be challenging in a zoom environment but might as well try anything you can.

  • Intern in IB - Gen
Sep 13, 2021 - 7:43pm

To offer a counter pov- if you can find a shop where you learn a decent amount while still being wfh or at least hybrid, then it's optimal. It allows you to work on a side hustle (whether your own RE ventures, ecomm, etc) when you have downtime rather than having to act like you're busy. I do understand that real estate is very much a relationship driven business, so you're taking a hit on that. But I wanted to give you something positive to think about.

Sep 13, 2021 - 9:46pm

I was in the same boat until recently, with less than 6 months in office at the role. Never felt like I built up rapport and felt set adrift for the better part of a year. It did get better but by the time it did I had made the decision to move on.

the good news is that most large companies are very aware of this problem and should be actively working to mitigate it. If that doesn't look like it's happening then I would jump ship as soon as you can find another role that fits.

the other good news is that interviewing while WFH is basically the easiest thing in the world. I was a part time interviewer (I think I peaked at 12 separate interviews in a week with 6 firms) for nearly 6 months til I found my current role. 

  • Director in RE - Comm
Sep 14, 2021 - 9:33am

I will say, it's not really your fault if you are struggling this way, it is your managers. I have several analysts working for me, and managing them remotely is very different than when you work in person. I have had remote analysts even before the pandemic (not wfh, just in a different office of the firm) and as a manager you have formalize a lot of things that happen informally in person. I have weekly one on ones with my analysts to talk about what they have been working. Our whole team sends weekly email updates to each other about what projects we have worked on this week. I make sure to cc my analysts on almost all my emails so they are in the loop more.

adapting to work from home puts a lot of onus on a manager to adapt and make sure their employees have to communication and connectedness they need. 

  • Associate 1 in RE - Comm
Sep 14, 2021 - 9:47am

Agreed, our whole firm has been remote since I have joined, and in order to have any semblance of cohesiveness there has to be a real effort to communicate constantly. Me and the head of acquisitions speak daily on what needs to be done, cc each other on every email, and actively make sure that we working towards progress. It's not perfect, but it's doable. I will say it is much harder at the entry level if there are analysts with zero experience coming in, teaching Argus or even the thought process we use when evaluating a deal is very time intensive.

Sep 14, 2021 - 10:48am

Once these pussies get over their phobias of a virus that has a death rate that across the infection spectrum that is on par with stated flu deaths, I do think the stated flu death rate is overstated, we can all go back to productive work.  I am still a firm believer that offices will come back to their full utilization when people realize that wfh causes far more damage to their companies bottom line and value than can be discerened in a short couple of years.  Much like schools we are creating a traunch of young employees and kids who are going to be forever stunted in their developments because people were too afraid of something that really wasn't a big deal on a numbers basis.

  • Director in RE - Comm
Sep 14, 2021 - 11:59am

10x to 20x Covid deaths than the average flu season. Even if you are one of the morons arguing people are being misclassified as covid deaths, just look at total deaths in the us.

2017-2019 all at about 2.8 million deaths. 2020 3.35 million deaths. If Covid is just the flu, why did half a million more people die last year in the us? 

Sep 14, 2021 - 12:16pm

How you made it to director level is astounding.  Rate of deaths is a direct correlation to rate of infection.  If more people get infected then you can have the same rate of death but get more deaths.  No one says this isn't an issue.  The problem is that the issue has been blown wildly out of proportion to reality by a media that is dying and grasping at every last straw to retain relevance.   I am paticularly baffled by the insane connections people draw regarding statements made about relevant percentages.  It is as if pointing out any facts about Covid will suddenly create more people who are skeptical.  So instead of being transparent and explaining why decisions are being made, those in power demand obedience and shame anyone who questions anything that might make them look bad.  

  • Director in RE - Comm
Sep 14, 2021 - 12:54pm

If more people get infected then you can have the same rate of death but get more deaths. 

you are so close to understanding why people are treating Covid so seriously even if the mortality rate isn't that much worse than the flu but are just a little to stupid to put the pieces together.

Sep 14, 2021 - 1:16pm

The Spanish flu, which by the way is a close relative to the common flu, killed people at 20 to 30+x the rate of the common flu.  The reason people are freaked out about covid has nothing to do with the virus itself.  If people just thought this was a really really bad flu they wouldn't be doing anything different aside from maybe washing their hands a bit more.   The key difference here is that this has been turned into a tribal campaign centered around politics.  It was turned into a ratings boom for the media.  It was turned into a division point to give you something else to hate your neighbors over. 

The idiocy of this entire thing is the general response from vacinated individuals.  Who don't seem to understand that they are at the same time saying both that the vaccine works and that it doesn't.   We have allowed a relatively benign, in the grand scheme of things, virus transform society into a rabid authoritarian reality.  

  • Intern in RE - Comm
Sep 14, 2021 - 6:44pm

I agree that the argument that it's not safe to go into the office is pretty benign at this point. However, there's no doubt that the cat's out of the bag on remote work life and that there's been a huge leverage shift from employers to employees over the past 18 months. So I think it's fair to pose this question and discuss within that context whether or not you think COVID is still an active threat to life as we know it.

Sep 17, 2021 - 11:42am

It was never a threat to life as we know it from the standpoint of reality.  Where it is a threat has always been from the standpoint of governmental overreach and weak-willed people who don't understand statistics controlling public panic. 

Sep 14, 2021 - 12:20pm

Also, it isn't morons who are questioning the classifications of covid deaths it is anyone who has a brain.  For example there have been people who had covid months ago who died in car accidents that were then classified as having died from covid.  This isn't some kind of shadowy conspiracy, it is the result of monetary incentivies.  When you double the payout medical establishments can get for dealing with "covid" then you get a natural response to that incentive. 

Sep 14, 2021 - 11:01am

Ya dude I started my role WFH and in a 3 hour time difference, eventually moved across the country still doing wfh but meeting up few times a week now (hybrid I guess).

2 major takeaways. First, You can't build serious rapport with your team jumping in and out of video calls or phone calls. You can… but even meeting in person a few times a month changes the way you interact. And second, hearing banter from one another while in the room is perfect in getting better communication and being asked to do things because you're right there.

And here's a bonus: I've realized my bosses have no idea what I'm doing when I'm working at home so when I'm slammed doing like 70-80 hours of work they think I'm twiddling my thumbs and keep pilling more on. When you're grinding in front of them they'll be like "oh shit we have no capacity."

Sep 20, 2021 - 4:56pm

This is the biggest difference I noticed in terms of how the RTO affected me personally - I actually work less hours now because my team now actively sees how long tasks take to complete. When you're out of mind, they wonder wtf you're doing but when they see you in action they get a better sense of how long things really take to accomplish. The end result - less pressure and shorter days, with expanded deadlines. 

Sep 14, 2021 - 11:07am

Said it once and I'll say it again, if you think wfh is negatively impacting your career, it is 

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Sep 14, 2021 - 3:27pm

I have started completely from home, ie not even a year in office before lockdown, and man i feel like compared to in office i know so much less, its unbelievable...

super discouraging too since i barely know anyone and never leave home due to working long hours

  • Manager in RE - Comm
Sep 15, 2021 - 12:52pm

I'm not a fan of WFH full-time. I think it's great to have that option but i think the best productivity is when your team is actually collaborating in an office. I feel like I learn the most that way and we're just more efficient cause we're all in the same room. It gets rid of the issues or awkward problems that technology often brings like zoom calls freezing up, dropped phone calls, or poorly worded emails.

However, some months back I remember a thread with a couple people arguing there is no need to go back to the office and really praising the WFH model. I think i even remember one user saying their company had their office lease ending and they weren't rushing to get a new space setup yet. So I think it certainly fits for certain people, maybe those who are more matured in their career and able to work more independently to get things done.

  • VP in RE - Comm
Sep 15, 2021 - 1:43pm

This is coming from a VP....I'm sorry but nobody is going to hop on a train 5x a week, commute 2 hours round trip, just so they can potentially work in the office with a bunch of entry level analyst fresh out of college. I get your development is stunted, but quite frankly, most mid level managers are just looking out for their best interest. 

We're at a stage now that I don't think we'll ever go back full time, 5x a week. Our office has been "open" for over a year and people go in 1-2 days a most to meet with brokers/partners or to print stuff out. Our occupancy on any given day is 10-20%. The lifestyle for a mid level manager and higher is just so much better not having to commute from the suburbs everyday. 

I honestly think we're headed for a model where the office is used as a meeting place to conduct business meetings while the majority of the "grunt work" (modeling, due diligence, reporting, etc) is done at home. I hate to say this, but the work  an analyst does at the end of the day is a commodity and doesn't make an impact on the final investment decision. We're not going to do a deal or not do a deal based off some random DCF created by an analyst who's been in the industry for less than 3 years. It's really more to cover our asses and to have something to say to investors. 

Instead of focusing on the negative and praying for being back in the office 5x a week with a team, look at the bright side. Our analysts are working from all over the country, traveling to places for weeks at a time, enjoying life. That's what you guys need to be doing instead of moaning about not being "mentored" from a bunch of 30-40 year olds who have more crap in their life to deal with. 

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  • Principal in AM - Other
Sep 15, 2021 - 6:17pm

Our analysts are working from all over the country, traveling to places for weeks at a time, enjoying life. 

Yeah, I am sure that's exactly what the majority of IB, PE and RE analysts are doing. Should explain all the 'I hate my life' and 'Unreasonable workloads' posts recently.

Give me a break on the commuting excuse, not everyone decided to live 2 hours away from their workplace.

If its any consolation to others, the above is a minority view and thankfully, one thats becoming less common by the day. Most IB and PE firms, at least across the US, understand the issue and seem to be going in-person at least 3-4 days a week, even with the uptick in cases due to Delta. Its generally only the guys in the middle (VP level) who for some reason have the 'WFH forever, the office is done' outlook. Junior analysts and the most senior people like Partners, MDs want to go back to office and let's be real, its only the voice of the latter that really matters.

Sep 15, 2021 - 7:08pm

It's interesting - we are pretty split here, from senior on down although I'd say that in general the 'closer' you are to revenue generation or retention the return to office view tends to be the majority. There are some MD's who have taken the 'fully remote' approach keeping an office space for literally meetings, discussions, etc. Others are maximizing office time to the extent possible, which tends to look like about 4 days a week. I'll be curious how it holds up over the next 12 months. 

My hope is that we settle towards a workplace that's flexible, but not one that devalues human interaction in favor of a fully remote environment. I don't believe in face time for the sake of it but you simply don't get the connection you do in person on a webinar. Same with business development, it's really challenging to build the relationships needed when you wear masks, stand 6 feet apart and/or are in an entirely remote world. It's do-able... but man is it an uphill slog in our world.

To the point on analysts - I think that we devalue human capital at our own peril. Sure, a monkey can probably do the work but they haven't quite figured that one out yet and continuity within organizations is something that is perennially undervalued. Mid level managers exist, primarily, to mentor/coach/build up or simply manage the workflow to those analysts. It's not a major job, but it's clear those organizations that get it right vs. those that don't. I can say as 1 of 1 example from a firm perspective, we've managed being fully remote but I wouldn't say that we've really grown. Maybe that will change. Who knows. 

  • VP in RE - Comm
Sep 15, 2021 - 7:31pm

Listen here junior, I know you're full of crap when you say "most senior people like Partners, MD want to go back to the office" because let's be real, even BEFORE the pandemic, the partners and MDs are NOT in the office. They are on the road getting deals done and new business through the door.

If your partner or MD is in the office the majority of the week, then something must be wrong or you work a back office job or something.

Don't know what type of weird back office hardo MDs you work for brother.

  • Associate 3 in RE - Comm
Sep 16, 2021 - 1:33am

I disagree. I think you have a good majority of firms that are seeing "WFH" as a benefit they can use to attract and keep employees instead of throwing more money at them.

  • During the past 18 months, a good 10-20% of my office in a high cost of living area (SF/NY/LA) moved permanently to a lower cost of living area (Raleigh/Austin/Portland). These are people likely gone for good. 
  • Then you have people who haven't been back into the office at all because they don't want to commute. I would say 30-40%
  • Then you have the rest that go in 1-3x/week to meet up with people in the city or to "socialize" with co-workers. 

I don't see the Monday to Friday grind returning at most companies. 

I can maybe see if for "REPE" sweatshops like TPG or Blackstone that have their roots in private equity where facetime is "big"; but for the rest of real estate companies, I think the majority will end up hybrid, 1-3x/week in the office.

  • Analyst 1 in RE - Comm
Sep 18, 2021 - 4:03am

I'm in that boat except I'm the associate commuting an hour each way. The heads of the company moved our office closer to where they live which I understand. It's also expected we come in 5x a week which is great for structure and I like better, I've never gotten the appeal of wfh.

  • Analyst 2 in RE - Comm
Sep 15, 2021 - 7:25pm

Guarantee most of those against WFH are in the office space lmao. I'm in multifamily and everyone I work with prefers WFH. Never seen so many people prefer the office before.

  • VP in RE - Comm
Sep 16, 2021 - 11:13am

Just look at office occupancy data in major metros. You have cities like SF sitting at 20-30% and they have the highest vaccination rates in the nation. 

The same people who are saying "office will bounce back" are the same people who were saying e-commerce is a fad and brick and mortal retail is here to stay. 

Sep 22, 2021 - 7:02am

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