New York City office workers expect to return to the office sometime this year. The most recent office survey conducted by the Partnership for New York City has found that 62% of office workers expect to be back in the office by Labor Day. In March, only 45% of workers that had the same expectation. This shows the rapid pace of the recovery, due largely to vaccinations.
While employees will return to the office, the work day will look much different than is did prior to the pandemic. The survey found that 71% off offices will implement a hybrid work model with a combination of in office and at-home work models, while only 25% of companies will require a return to the office. Only 4% of respondents said that returning to the office in some capacity was not required—good news for the office industry.
Financial services companies are leading the back-to-work trend with 61% of employers calling employees back-to-work by September. Tech companies, on the other hand, are slower to ask employees back. Only 40% of tech companies plan to have employees back in the office by September. The latter is actually a decrease from the previous survey when 51% of tech companies claimed to have office re-open by Labor Day.
Large companies are also slow to have employees return. Only 8% of employees of large companies—defined as having more than 500 workers—have returned to the office, while 24% workers at companies with less than 500 employees have returned. Likewise, 83% smaller companies expect employees to return to the office by September, while only 53% of larger companies made the same claim.
While more office workers expect to return to the office this year, not many have already made the plunge. Only 12% of respondents said that their company has already returned to work, up only slightly from 10% in March.
However, companies aren’t planning to require vaccinations once offices reopen. When asked about vaccination policy, 72% of employers said that they would not require vaccines, although 22% said they will encourage them. Another 10% of companies had not made a policy decision either way yet. However, companies are planning to implement some safety protocols for unvaccinated workers. The survey found that 34% of companies plan to require unvaccinated workers where masks; 27% will restrict business travel; and 43% will restrict attendance to client meetings.
While there is a light at the end of the tunnel, there are still some hurdles ahead. The status of COVID-19 could derail office reopening plans, and many employees are concerned about public transit. In addition schools reopening plans were also a concern for workers.
Plans for New York City workers to return to the office is welcome news after the city’s challenging year. In January, Colliers reported that Manhattan’s office leasing volume in 2020 was the lowest in two decades, with full-year activity down 55.9%. However, many have expected a rapid rebound following the end of the pandemic, and some investors bet on it. In May, KPG Funds reported plans to acquire more than $1 billion in New York City office and retail assets. The company, which specializes in value-add acquisitions and development, believes the New York market will recover.