Is Work from Home the New Normal?

If this is the new normal, it presages a major change in the workplace, at least the office workplace, though I have no clue as to what the end-state would be.  ¯_(ツ)_/¯

New York City will allow companies to reopen their offices on Monday after a three-month lockdown from the pandemic. Few employees seem ready or willing to go back.

Most companies are taking a cautious approach. Some are keeping offices closed, while others are opening them at reduced occupancy and allowing employees to decide if they prefer to keep working from home. Mary Ann Tighe, chief executive for the tri-state region at real-estate services firm CBRE Group Inc., said many New York City clients don’t plan on being fully back in the office before Labor Day. And maybe only then if schools have reopened.

Companies are worried about another wave of infections, Ms. Tighe said. Some are also concerned about commuting bottlenecks, if more drivers lead to traffic jams or public transit limits the number of riders. Lower maximum occupancy in elevators could also lead to lines.

New York real-estate brokers and landlords say they anticipate only 10% to 20% of Manhattan’s office workers will return on Monday, though they expect that figure to increase gradually over the summer. Traders at financial-services companies are eager to return, these people say, but most of their other employees are staying away. Tech and creative companies are also taking their time.

Potentially, this could mean a number of things:

  • Reduced demand for office space.
  • Fewer positions in middle-management.
  • Reductions in traffic and commuting time.
  • Human Sacrifice, dogs and cats living together, mass hysteria.

OK, maybe not that last one, but if the demand for office space in the center city drops long term by more than a few percent, it could be the genesis of another banking or real estate crisis.

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