There’s been a lot of discussion around where workers will do their jobs from post-pandemic, but in Manhattan, it looks like a majority will done away from the office. According to a recent Partnership for New York City survey, only 8 percent of Manhattan office employees are going to their desks five days a week, Commercial Observer reports. The survey polled 160 major employers in Manhattan between April 21 and May 4, 2022. It saw that almost 80 percent of companies will implement a hybrid work model when the COVID-19 pandemic ends. Only 6 percent did so prior to the pandemic.
“I was shocked that we had gone to 78 percent of employers saying they intended to embrace a hybrid work model,” Partnership for New York City CEO Kathryn Wylde told Commercial Observer. “That’s a quantum leap. I would have thought that it was a lower number — that they were waiting to decide in the fall perhaps what was going to be their model.”
Amenities like cafès, golf simulators and pet day cares have not been enough to lure most Manhattan employees to their offices five days a week—at least not right now, Commercial Observer reports. However, landlords’ efforts may pay off in the fall, when the survey showed that about 50 percent of employees plan to return to their office on an average weekday, up from the current 38 percent mark.
Most employees report to their office two to three days per week today, while 28 percent telework full time, according to the survey.
Efforts to get more employees to return to the office
Peer pressure might be one way to increase in-person office attendance, according to the survey. About 32 percent of employers said if other businesses returned to their office, they would as well. However, public- safety issues have also hindered New York’s efforts to get more employees back to the office. People surveyed acknowledged homelessness on the subway and the streets as a key reason for why they prefer to work remotely.
City officials are taking steps to halt such issues, such as criminalizing sleeping on trains, but find themselves in a bit of a Catch-22 situation. Getting more commuters on the subway might make it feel crowded and safer, but that would mean people would have to get on the subway—which many won’t do until they know it’s safe.
“If conditions in the city and on the subways improve, I think we’ll see less resistance among employees to coming back,” Wylde said. “I say (that), because the nurses and doctors have to come back, subway workers and restaurant workers have to come back, so do you. But I’m in the minority right now.”
Real estate leads return-to-the-office charge
The real estate industry had the biggest average daily in-office attendance at 82 percent in April, according to the survey. That’s not too surprising given real estate has the most to gain from higher in-person numbers. Meanwhile, law, tech, media, consulting and financial service companies have seen between 40 and 46 percent of employees at the desks on an average day. The Partnership for New York City survey also found that firms with more than 5,000 employees have seen the slowest pace in terms of employees’ coming back to the office.
The survey did reveal some cause for concern for the CRE industry. Only 18 percent of firms plan to expand their office footprint versus 22 percent who expect to reduce theirs. Many plan to keep their square footage the same, however.
Click here to see the full Partnership for New York City survey.