NY Governor to Office Workers: Come Back

Attendance in Manhattan is still far below pre-pandemic levels, according to a recent survey.

New York Governor Kathy Hochul. Image via Gov. Hochul’s official Flickr

Nearly two years after offices emptied out nationwide, New York Governor Kathy Hochul is urging workers in the Empire State to return to their workplaces. Hochul made the bid during a speech focused on rebuilding after the pandemic Thursday morning.

The Governor, who took office in August after former Governor Andrew Cuomo resigned, spoke at a breakfast event hosted by the Association for a Better New York, where she laid out a plan to rebuild the state after the damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Offices are still too empty and too many workers are at home—that has an impact on our economy and ripples across the entire city,” Hochul tweeted from her official account. “I’m putting a stake in the ground: It’s time to get back to the office.”

The plea from the Governor did not go over well with Twitter users, who overwhelmingly responded negatively to Hochul’s tweet, with many saying the Governor was out of touch with what office workers and companies want.

“Instead of going back to a broken model with no balance, we need to lean into the new way of working because it’s here to stay,” Twitter user @DaddyFiles replied to Hochul’s tweet.

READ ALSO: NYC Transaction Volume Struggles to Bounce Back

Office attendance in the city has been slowly rising, but is still nowhere near pre-pandemic levels, according to a recent study from the nonprofit group Partnership for New York City. As of late October, 28 percent of Manhattan office workers are back at their workplaces on any given weekday, while 54 percent are still fully remote, according to the report.

Of the industries surveyed, the real estate industry has the highest average daily attendance by far, with 77 percent, followed by 27 percent of financial services employees and 27 percent of law firm employees.

The results came from a survey of major employers over in mid to late October of this year. Those surveyed said they expected that about half of their workers will be in the office on an average weekday by the end of January next year, while a third of employers anticipate needing less office space over the next five years.

Manhattan’s office market has struggled in recent months. In September, office vacancy stayed flat month-over-month, posting an average of 10.8 percent, according to CommercialEdge data. On the sales side, deal volume has slowed, with just three office transactions closing in Manhattan in September.

Hochul, who made her remarks at the Hilton Hotel in Midtown Manhattan, made her return to office request a New Year’s resolution, and urged others to do the same.

“How about this New Year’s resolution? That in the days after New Year’s, that we say ‘everybody back in the office,’” said Hochul during the speech. “You can have a flex time, but we need you back, at least the majority of the week, come on back, New Yorkers, we miss you.”

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