return to office

The Office Is Half-Dead

Photo: Jeenah Moon/Bloomberg via Getty Images

After a post–Labor Day push (and some not-so-veiled threats from employers), New York City workers’ return to the office has stalled — at least for now. A September survey from the business-advocacy organization Partnership for NYC found that only 9 percent of Manhattan office employees were back full time but expected that the overall occupancy rate would top 50 percent by the end of the year. But as The City reported this week, while office occupancy has been increasing since last year’s Omicron wave, it’s plateaued at 47 percent over the last month, according to building-security company Kastle Systems, which aggregates office swipe-card data. (Still, there’s good news for David Solomon and Stephen Ross: Real-estate and financial-services firms had some of the highest occupancy rates, at 82 and 56 percent, respectively.)

A looming downturn likely won’t help matters: The tech industry is pulling back on office space in New York. Facebook, which was supposed to lease more space in Astor Place and Hudson Yards, put both plans on pause, as Bloomberg reported in July, and is now terminating its lease at 225 Park Avenue South. Amazon also cut back space it had planned to lease at Hudson Yards. As Bloomberg noted, “While both Meta and Amazon are still building out giant offices in Manhattan, the two companies’ more-cautious approach is a potential harbinger of future challenges across the city’s office market as businesses seek to cut costs and re-evaluate real estate strategies.” Over the summer, Yelp went fully remote and closed its New York offices.

Some companies are banking on the New Year — as The City pointed out, Pfizer’s CEO recently said that he would push for workers to return to the office part time in January. But many said the same thing about Labor Day and we’re still leveled out. The junior bankers will likely be lonely for a little while longer.

The Office Is Half-Dead