More than two years after the outbreak of coronavirus, only 8% of Manhattan office employees are back in the office five days a week, according to new data from The Partnership for New York.
Meanwhile, 38% of Manhattan office employees are coming into the office part-time under hybrid work schedules and anticipate that by Labor Day they can bring that number to 49%, according to the survey.
Nevertheless, it’s clear despite employers’ best efforts to bring workers back, the power has shifted from employers to employees, said Kathryn Wylde, president of The Partnership for New York.
“Companies have tried everything — offering free meals, free snacks and they can’t bring people back full-time,” Wylde told The Post.
Before the pandemic, more than 80% of companies demanded that employees come in five days a week. But now, 78% of companies expect to permanently offer a hybrid model as a way to keep top talent, based on data from the survey — which interviewed 160 major companies between April 21 and May 4.
Of the 91% of employers encouraging a return to office, 64% of them are providing an incentive to bring people back, with 50% offering social activities, 43% offering free or subsidized meals, and 13% offering transportation subsidies.
As summer looms, 30% of companies are making additional concessions for workers looking for added flexibility during the warmer months. Companies are offering perks including summer Fridays and remote work in August.
Wylde said it’s hard to undo the inertia of the last two years, when employees were able to work from home.
“If we had reopened June 2020, this wouldn’t be an issue, but for more than two years, people got used to a new pattern the longer this thing went on,” Wylde adds.
Even as fewer employees are going to an office full-time, there are more employees going into work part-time now than a few months ago. Six months ago, 54% of Manhattan employees were fully remote. As of April, only 28% were fully remote.
The real estate industry has been driving the return to office — 82% of real estate employees are back at work. In the legal industry, 46% are back; in tech, 44% are back; in consulting, 41% are back; and in financial services, 40% are back.
Wylde concedes that for now, employees appear to be driving the bus — but suggests if the economy tightens, that could change.
“The question is when will employees feel the need to back five days a week — it’ll have to be the workers who make that decision,” Wylde adds.