Study: NYC Workers Slowly Returning to Office
Real Estate In-Depth | February 13, 2023
NEW YORK—The Partnership for New York City released a survey earlier this month of more than 140 major Manhattan office employers between Jan. 5 and Jan. 28, 2023, which showed that employees are continuing to return to the office, at least on a part-time basis.
As of late January 2023, 52% of Manhattan office workers were at their workplace on an average weekday, up from 49% in September 2022. Only 9% of employees were in the office five days a week, unchanged from September. The share of office employees that are fully remote dropped from 16% in September 2022 to 10% as of late January.
Return to office rates are approaching employers’ expected “new normal” occupancy rates of 56%.
Consistent with past surveys, 82% of employers indicated a hybrid office schedule will be their predominant policy in 2023. For employers with a hybrid model, the survey reports that 59% of employees are in the office at least three days a week.
Many employers expanded New York City headcount during the pandemic and remain committed to the city: 40% increased their New York City headcount during the pandemic and 38% maintained headcount levels; only 21% decreased headcount. About half (48%) of employers expect to increase their New York City workforce, 45% expect to maintain current headcount, and only 7% expect to reduce headcount.
While 29% of employers have reduced their real estate footprint since February 2020, 17% increased their footprint and 54% had no change. A larger share of employers (26%) expect to increase their real estate footprint over the next five years than expect to reduce it (18%); the majority (56%) expect to maintain their current footprint.
The Partnership survey of employers found:
On an average weekday, 52% of Manhattan office workers are in the workplace as of late January 2023. Nine percent of Manhattan office workers are in the office full time (five days a week). 15% are in four days per week. 35% are in three days per week. 18% are in two days per week. 12% are in one day per week. 10% of Manhattan office workers are fully remote.
The real estate industry has the highest average daily attendance (80%) as of late January, followed by financial services (59%) and law (58%).
Real estate firms expect a “new normal” of 81% average daily office attendance; financial services firms expect 62%; law firms expect 61%.
The tech industry has a 43% average daily office attendance as of late January, which is expected to increase to a “new normal” of 49%.
Office Attendance Increased Among Larger Firms
Among firms with more than 5,000 employees, 49% of employees are currently in the office on the average weekday—up from 44% in September 2022 and 31% in April 2022—with expectations of a 53% “new normal” average daily occupancy.
Among firms with fewer than 500 employees, 59% of employees have returned to the office on the average weekday, up slightly from 54% in the fall. Average daily attendance is expected to increase to a “new normal” of 62%.
The Partnership also asked employers about their office attendance policies:
82% of employers will have a hybrid schedule in 2023; only 9% require daily attendance. The remainder rely on departmental discretion (7%) or employee discretion (2%).
Among companies with additional offices outside of New York City, the vast majority (92%) said their remote work policy is uniform across geographies; 5% said their New York City office(s) offers more remote work flexibility than offices outside the city and 3% said their New York City office(s) offer less flexibility.
Half of companies are still offering incentives to employees who return to the office, down from 59% in September. Common incentives include social activities (38% offering), free or discounted meals (36%), transportation subsidies (7%), and child care support (3%).