The return of workers to Manhattan offices is happening more slowly than employers originally anticipated, a recent survey found.
Just 8% of Manhattan’s 1 million office workers had returned to their buildings in mid-August, according a survey of employers conducted by the Partnership for New York City—a nonprofit organization dedicated to bolstering local commerce and innovation. Those major employers had projected in late May that 10% of their workforce would be back in the office by mid-August.
And uncertainty amid the COVID-19 pandemic has prompted those employers to roll back their expectations of how many workers will return to the office by year’s end. In May, companies said they expected a third of workers to be back on site by the end of 2020. But that figure was just 26% by the August survey. Employers anticipate that just 54% of their workers will be back in offices by July 2021, it found. And more than a quarter of employers—28%—said they don’t yet know their plans for returning to the office.
But office plans vary greatly by industry. Employers in the real estate sector reported the highest percentage of workers back in the office, at 53%. And those employers said they expect 94% of employees to be back on site by July 2021. The technology industry also appears more aggressive in its anticipated to return to the office. Those employers expect 74% of workers to be back in the office by July. That figure is 55% among the financial and insurance sectors. Projected return rates were much lower for employers in accounting, media and entertainment, and the hospitality sectors, the survey found.
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The status of the COVID-19 pandemic has the single largest influence on employer’s plans about returning to the office, according to the survey. Transit safety, the reopening of schools, and the availability of childcare were other highly ranked factors in employer plans. The preference of employees to work from home was cited as the least important factor in office reopening plans.