Weekly Editorial

Big Cities Can't Get Workers Back To The Office

Written By Rob Kirkbride, Write Office • July 18, 2022

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As COVID continues to move toward the endemic stage, it seemed reasonable to assume that more and more people were returning to the office (or already had). But I read a fascinating story in the Wall Street Journal last week with the following headline: “Big Cities Can’t Get Workers Back to the Office.”

According to the article, big city workers — those with long commute times — are still staying away from the office. They are still concerned about COVID (and getting on packed commuter trains or subways), tired of paying more than $5 a gallon for gas only to sit in traffic for hours and they want more from their offices.

“More than two years into the Covid-19 pandemic, exasperation is growing among business, city and community leaders across the U.S. who have seen offices left behind while life returns to normal at restaurants, airlines, sporting events and other places where people gather. Even after many employers have adopted hybrid schedules, less than half the number of prepandemic office workers are returning to business districts consistently. The problem is most pronounced in America’s biggest cities. Nationally, office use hit a pandemic-era high of 44% in early June, while cities like Philadelphia, Chicago, San Francisco and New York have lagged behind, according to Kastle Systems, which collects data on how many workers swipe into office buildings each day,” the article reads.

Instead of passively waiting for customers to ask for our help in redesigning their offices to make them more safe and useful for employees, we must proactively reach out to them and offer our expertise.

How important is this? For our industry, it is crucial. Everyone I speak to in the industry is busy as they make up several years worth of work, but that won’t last forever, especially if workers keep away from the office. It is more important than that. The stability of the U.S. economy (and that of the world) and the long-term viability of urban areas depend on it.

If you are a dealer or manufacturer working in major markets, that’s how critical it is for you to help your customers get people back to work. And the longer we wait, the harder it becomes. We’ve curated a few additional articles on the topic with links farther down in the newsletter and hope you will use the information found in them to hit the streets. All of us need to become Pied Pipers and lead companies back to the office.

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