• Southwest Airlines’ Call Centers Going Remote, Inflation Hits New High

    Southwest Airlines’ Call Centers Going Remote

    Southwest Airlines is planning to close reservation centers in seven cities, with about 3,200 workers who now help customers book flights set to work fully outside of its offices effective Sept. 1. It’s a tilt in favor of remote work, at a time when the future of corporate offices is being debated with the rise of work-from-home technologies during the pandemic.

    Southwest emphasized that most of its reservation agents have already been working from home or other remote locations since the start of the pandemic. The change affects workers who may still be working at the carrier’s dedicated reservation centers in Atlanta, Chicago, Houston, Oklahoma City, Phoenix and Albuquerque, New Mexico, along with the company’s headquarters in Dallas.

    “Evolving to a fully remote workforce brings increased flexibility, both in attracting and hiring new employees from across the country, and in scheduling current employees who have worked at record efficiency in a remote work environment,” Southwest said in a statement.

    A Southwest spokesman told CNBC, which first reported the changeover plans June 9, that physical locations where booking agents were based are expected to be repurposed for use by other departments.

    Tesla CEO Elon Musk ordered workers this month back to offices full-time, joining some other company leaders taking that approach. But tech provider Kastle Systems, which tracks big-city office use through anonymous keycard data in buildings it services, reports that office attendance nationally has held steadily between 40% and 43% of pre-pandemic levels for the past several weeks, with most cities yet to crack 50% since the start of the pandemic.

    Inflation Hits New High

    Consumer prices rose 1% over the prior month in May as the annual inflation rate hit a new 40-year high of 8.6%, the Labor Department reported June 10.

    Inflation is closely watched not only as a potential curb on consumer spending and thus real estate demand, but also for its effects on long-term financing rates for construction and property investment. The Federal Reserve has indicated that it plans to continue hiking its key borrowing rate until inflation has been brought down closer to around 2.5%.

    The latest consumer price index report shows that could take a while. The May price for gasoline was 4.1% above April’s, and shelter, utilities and food were also among the largest contributors to the monthly inflation uptick.

    The 8.6% year-over-year price increase was the largest seen since the period ending in December 1981, the Labor Department reported. The energy index, which includes gasoline, was up 34.6% from May 2021, the largest annual increase since the period ending in September 2005.

    Source: www.CoStar.com