54% of Manhattan office workers remain fully remote, only 13% expected back for 5-day week by end of January: survey

Nov. 11, 2021

The New York Metro area is the largest metropolitan area in the world by urban landmass, at 4,669 square miles ,and one of the most populous urban agglomerations in the world. In 2020, New York had a GDP of $1.7 trillion, which would place it as one of the largest economies in the world.

Financial services, healthcare, professional and business services, retail trades, manufacturing and education are among New York's leading industries. That makes the region one of the largest markets for office coffee, micro market and vending services in white-collar workplaces.

During the pandemic, it was one of hardest-hit markets for operators serving the region. And as the nation approaches two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, the return-to-office migration is progressing slowly. 

With that backdrop, the Partnership for New York City surveyed major employers between Oct. 19 and 29 to gauge the status of the return to offices among Manhattan’s 1 million office workers. The survey assessed the impact of remote work on NYC employment and future demand for office space.

The survey found that 28% of Manhattan office workers are in the office on an average weekday, with only 8% in the office five days a week, while 54% remain fully remote. Employers expect that 49% of workers will be in the office on an average weekday by Jan. 30, 2022, with 57% in the office at least three days a week, while 21% remain fully remote.

According to the Partnership of NYC survey, a third of employers expect that their office space needs will decline over the next five years and 13% anticipate a reduction in jobs located in New York City, with the greatest job losses in the financial services industry.

Office workers in Manhattan as of late October:

  • 28% are in the workplace on an average weekday, 
  • 8% are in the office full time five days a week.
  • 10% are in four days a week.
  • 12% are in three days a week.
  • 8% are in two days a week.
  • 8% are in one day a week.
  • 54% are still fully remote.

Manhattan office worker projections by end of January 2022

  • 49% are expected to be in the workplace on an average weekday.
  • 13% are expected to be in the workplace five days a week.
  • 11% will be in four days a week.
  • 33% will be in three days a week.
  • 15% will be in two days a week
  • 7% will be in one day a week
  • 21% will remain fully remote

The Partnership of NYC found that the real estate industry has by far the highest average daily attendance (77%) as of late October, followed by financial services (27%) and law firms (27%). 

By the end of January, real estate firms expect 80% average daily attendance of Manhattan office employees; law firms expect 61%; financial services firms expect 47%. Industries with the lowest projected return to the office include accounting (36% daily attendance), consulting (30%) and technology (24%).

Larger firms are projected to experience the slowest pace of the return to offices. Among firms with more than 5,000 employees, 28% of employees are currently in the office on the average weekday and 46% are expected back by the end of January. As for firms with fewer than 500 employees, according to the survey, 39% of employees have returned to the office on the average weekday. Average daily attendance is expected to increase to 58% by the end of January.

Click here to see the Partnership for New York City's "return to office" survey summary.

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