NYC lags behind other US cities in getting workers to return to offices

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The Big Apple is lagging behind other cities around the country in getting staffers to ditch working-from-home and return to the office, according to a new report.

Just 20.7 percent of employees in New York City were back in the office as of June 9, according to building management firm Kastle Systems., which has monitored key swipes in 2,600 buildings that house 41,000 businesses it services across 46 states since last April

Across the ten largest cities in the US, Kastle estimated that an average of 31.5 percent of workers had returned to the office.

New York isn’t alone in lagging its urban peers. Workers in both San Francisco and San Jose are heading back to the office at even lower rates than in New York City, with just 18.2 percent and 20.2 percent back in the office, respectively, according to Kastle.

Texas’ cities, on the other hand, are far outpacing the rest of the nation in the return-to-office effort. Dallas, Austin and Houston all saw the share of workers going into the office rise by 3.7 percent from the prior week, up to 49.7 percent, 48.7 percent and 47.7 percent occupancy, according to Kastle data.

With COVID-19 numbers continuing to fall as vaccinations rise, office occupancy is steadily rising in cities nationwide, Kastle’s data shows.

Compared with the week prior, New York City’s office occupancy rose by 2.5 percent. At the same time last year, Kastle’s data shows that just over 5 percent of employees in New York City were going back into the office.

Office occupancy in Chicago rose by 3 percent over the prior week to reach a total of 27.5 percent of workers in the office, according to Kastle.

Occupancy rates in California’s San Jose, San Francisco and Los Angeles all rose at the most modest week-over-week rates of the top ten cities, up just 1.5 percent, 1.5 percent and 1.1 percent, respectively, Kastle’s data says.

The data comes as employers, many eager to return their staffers to the office, and workers, many of whom feel they’ve proven they can work effectively from home, duke it out over plans to return to pre-pandemic working norms.

Earlier this week, Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman issued a stern warning to his staff — come back to the office by Labor Day, or face a pay cut.

“Make no mistake about it. We do our work inside Morgan Stanley offices, and that’s where we teach, that’s where our interns learn, that’s how we develop people,” he said. “If you can go into a restaurant in New York City, you can come into the office.”

“On Labor Day, I’ll be very disappointed if people haven’t found their way into the office. Then, we’ll have a different kind of conversation,” the head honcho warned.

To those who fled New York City for more spacious and cheaper homes, Gorman sent a sobering message — if you want a New York City salary, you’ll have to be in the five boroughs to earn it.

“If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York. None of this, ‘I’m in Colorado and work in New York and am getting paid like I’m sitting in New York City,’” Gorman barked.

“Sorry, that doesn’t work.”

Stripe, an online payments startup valued at $95 billion, has struck a similar stance. The company told workers in September they could leave offices in New York and San Francisco to work elsewhere permanently, and they’d get a one-time bonus of $20,000 but also a permanent salary 10-percent cut.

On Wednesday, the company’s CEO John Collison said Stripe “saw pretty major uptake.”

“There were a lot of people who took advantage of all the remote working that was going on last year to be able to move to be closer to their families, to somewhere they wanted to move previously,” he said, without providing a specific number.

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