September 18, 2023
After more than three years of pandemic-related changes, many companies are calling their workforce back into the office. The unofficial end of summer is turning into the unofficial end of full-time remote work for companies like Lyft, Meta, AT&T and FedEx, all of which are calling back workers.
For workers who have been at home, returning to the office can be a shock. Business casual clothes that were pushed to the back of the closet need to be dusted off. Instead of commuting from the bedroom to the home office, workers are jumping back in their cars and boarding trains to head to the office.
The return-to-the-office trend is nothing new. In fact, the trend has been taking shape for more than a year. Last Labor Day companies like Peloton, Apple and Comcast told employees to come back to the office. Many workers did return to the office last year, at least in some sense. Yet a large portion of workers are still waiting to make the switch. Office building occupancy in the country’s major cities still remains at about 50% of pre-pandemic levels.
Financial firm BlackRock is asking workers to come in four days a week (from the three previously required), Amazon is asking remote workers to move close to an Amazon hub to keep their jobs. Even Zoom, the company that made remote work possible, is requiring workers to return to the office. The federal government is weighing in as well with the Biden administration telling agency leaders to ramp up in-person work.
That old briefcase simply won’t cut it anymore. It’s time for a new commuter bag. And workers have an abundance of options as they head back to the office. Work bags continue to evolve and don’t have to look like the stodgy briefcases of old. Many new options are available, from the sporty to the stylish to the simple.
For those who value fashion, designer brand Louis Vuitton (Tii:LVMH) has about 60 subsidiaries that manage 75 high-end brands that include its namesake along with RIMOWA, Christian Dior, Fendi, Givenchy, Marc Jacobs and many more. Many of its brands offer luxury messenger bags perfect for work. A work bag from Louis Vuitton will set you back about $3,000.
Office dwellers who want to mix work and play can opt for any number of athletic companies whose backpacks and bags do double duty carrying office gear and athletic clothing for the gym. Brands like Nike (Tii:NKE), which started as a footwear specialist, now has products under every sportswear category, including commuter bags that blend work and sport.
Nike isn’t alone, of course. There are a number of publicly traded sporting goods companies that offer goods such as commuter bags as well. Brands like Columbia (Tii:COLM) and Under Armour (Tii:UAA) also have become sporting goods companies after initially specializing in one narrow category. Retail sporting goods stores like Dick’s Sporting Goods (Tii:DKS) also carry a number of bags that can be used both for sport and work. Bags are also an increasingly popular category for Lululemon Athletica (Tii:LULU), which started out making yoga clothing.
Of course, clothing designers and retailers often offer commuter bags as well. Brands such as Ralph Lauren (Tii:RL) and Urban Outfitters (Tii:URBN) sell clothing to get you back to work looking your best and bags to help you carry your office gear.
For retail shareholders looking to add shares from the companies involved in the return to work movement, look at the publicly traded firms above.
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