New employer survey shows 54 percent of Manhattan workers remain fully remote

Posted On Wed, November 10, 2021 By

Posted On Wed, November 10, 2021 By In Manhattan, Policy

Via Creative Commons

In March, 6sqft reported that only 10 percent of Manhattan’s office employees had returned to the workplace full-time. Since then, a recent survey shows, only 28 percent are back in the office on an average weekday. According to a survey of major employers between October 19 and October 29 by The Partnership for New York City, only 8 percent of employees are in the office five days a week and 54 percent are only working remotely. A third of employers surveyed said their need for office space will go down over the next five years, and 13 percent expect a reduction of jobs physically located in NYC, especially in the financial services industry.

The survey’s intent was to check in on Manhattan’s one million office workers to gauge how much impact the sharp increase in remote work has had on NYC employment and to anticipate future demand for office space. The largest group of respondents in the study have offices in Midtown West, Midtown East, or the Financial District; the majority of respondents work in the financial services industry (33 percent), real estate (18 percent), law (10 percent), media (7 percent), consulting (5 percent), tech (4 percent) and accounting (4 percent).

Looking at the industries most affected by the location shift, the survey found that, as of late October, the real estate industry has racked up the highest average daily attendance numbers, with 77 percent back in the office full-time. Financial services and law firms have seen 27 percent average daily attendance.

Looking forward, employers expect that 49 percent of workers will be in the office on an average weekday by January 30, 2022, with 57 percent in the office at least three days a week. They anticipate 21 percent will stay remote full-time.

Real estate companies expect that 80 percent of workers will return full-time by the end of January 2022; law firms expect 61 percent; financial services, 47 percent. The lowest projected back-to-the-office numbers were found in the accounting industry (36 percent daily attendance), consulting (30 percent), and tech (24 percent).

The survey found smaller firms outpace larger companies in the return to the city’s office space: Firms with fewer than 500 employees saw 39 percent back in the office with that number expected to grow to 58 percent by the end of January 2022. Firms with more than 5,000 employees saw only 28 percent back at their desks, with 46 percent expected by January.

48 percent of employers cited the status of COVID-19 as the most influential factor in the work location shift. Employees’ preference for remote work was the second biggest reason. Other important factors included challenges presented by children under 12 who could not be vaccinated, commuting issues, and perceptions of public safety, especially in Midtown Manhattan.

49 percent of companies that were willing to disclose their vaccination policies are requiring that all employees (except those with exemptions) get vaccinated. 39 percent will require that in-office employees are vaccinated or regularly tested; 11 percent have no vaccine policy. 44 percent of employers say they’ll require all returning employees to wear masks in the office, with 27 percent requiring masks only for unvaccinated employees. 29 percent won’t mandate masks.

Employers are getting creative to entice workers to return. Nearly a third are offering new incentives, including free or subsidized meals, discounted parking or rideshare services, and child care support.

Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office recently took a look at the impact this shift to remote work will have on the city’s tax revenue and consumer spending. An October 19 report revealed that for people who live and work in the city, spending closer to home will likely replace buying near the office. And city sales tax revenue could fall $111 million annually due to the new work habits of  Manhattan’s one million office workers.

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