Only 14% of New Yorkers do office work (Getty)</p><div><p>Windows locked, restaurants locked, all office towers empty ... after ten months of spread <a target="_blank" href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/coronavirus" rel="noopener">The Covid-19 epidemic</a> Who turned the famous business centers in <a target="_blank" href="https://www.alaraby.co.uk/economy/%D9%86%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%8A%D9%88%D8%B1%D9%83-%D8%AA%D9%86%D9%87%D9%8A-%D8%B9%D9%82%D9%88%D8%AF%D9%87%D8%A7-%D9%85%D8%B9-%D9%85%D8%A4%D8%B3%D8%B3%D8%A9-%D8%AA%D8%B1%D8%A7%D9%85%D8%A8-%D9%88%D8%AF%D8%A7%D8%B9%D8%A7%D9%8B-%D9%84%D8%A3%D8%B1%D8%A8%D8%A7%D8%AD-%D8%A8%D9%8017-%D9%85%D9%84%D9%8A%D9%88%D9%86-%D8%AF%D9%88%D9%84%D8%A7%D8%B1" rel="noopener">New York </a>To ghost towns, companies are wondering how to get their employees back into their offices.
“If they don’t come back, we will drown,” Kenneth Maclore, vice president of Hospitality Holdings, whose Midtown restaurant is usually packed with businessmen who come to discuss financial deals at lunch or have a cup at the end of work, told AFP.
His group closed six restaurants and bars in Manhattan, including two permanently, indicating the threat hanging over these neighborhoods, which were a symbol of American economic vitality, and a model for New York, like yellow taxis or Broadway theaters.
“The customers we’d seen three, four or five times a week have simply disappeared,” McCleur added, since last March, when New York faced the first wave of the pandemic. More than 26,000 people have died from the virus in the US economic capital so far.
According to Castle Systems, the company that specializes in office security, only 14 percent of the more than one million New Yorkers employed were working from their offices in mid-January, threatening the fate of many snack suppliers and convenience stores in Midtown or Wall Street.
Fellowship and creativity
But with the arrival of vaccines against Covid-19, companies are looking for ways to encourage their employees to return.
About 80% of employees surveyed thought in a study published this month by PwC that working remotely was a good thing. But 87% considered their office important to work as a team and create relationships – aspects of work in which video communication is less effective.
“Being in the office and seeing colleagues and out of the house keeps me in a good mood all week,” said Jessica Lapin, during an interview from her office at the Association for Downtown New York City that she chairs.
But few employees want to return to work from Monday to Friday, from morning to evening, as was the case before the epidemic.
“A large majority say they prefer a hybrid system, with two or three days of work from home and two or three days from the office,” says Denise Caglar, who contributed to the PwC study.
Specialists in this sector consider that companies will have to change the concept of workplaces, and not be anymore just a place to sit in front of a computer screen or make phone calls, as was the case in the past, but rather encourage friendships between colleagues and creativity. This means improving the décor and creating larger meeting rooms, balconies, places outside for chatting, and offices that can be shared according to working hours.
“The workplace should be like a theater, with different decor for different scenes,” says David Smith, author of a study on the future of workplaces for “Cushman & Wakefield”, one of the giant companies in commercial real estate.
And offices in the future could include gymnasiums, cafes, places to wash clothes or other services that make coming to the office “worthwhile”, thus accelerating the trend that began before the epidemic.
A new future?
Although their employees are currently working mainly remotely, some large companies have acquired large office space since the beginning of the epidemic, which leads to the belief that they are still betting on this method of work in the future despite the current uncertainty caused by the epidemic.
In August, Facebook signed a lease agreement for 68,000 square meters of offices in Midtown, while Google confirmed that it intends to expand its headquarters in Chelsea.
Greenberg Traorig, a law firm that employs 400 people in New York, is preparing to move its offices in 2021 to a new office tower in Midtown, its vice president Robert Evanho announced.
The company has previously installed equipment such as the installation of taps that do not require touch with dispensers for sterile materials, offices that take into account social distancing and an improved ventilation system for its employees who are currently working under a rotation system, he added.
In early January, a new passenger hall opened at the Benn station for the trains, where millions of people had crossed before the pandemic. It was opened by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo after a $ 1.6 billion business, testament to local officials’ hopes of revitalizing the city center.
Some see in the current period an opportunity that encourages rethinking these neighborhoods to make them more environmentally friendly with the addition of green spaces to the neighborhoods, while eating in outdoor restaurant patios – which was very rare in New York before the epidemic – is expected to become permanent.
“It’s clearly an opportunity for everyone to think of a new future,” said Alfred Cerullo, head of the Grand Central Partnership business group in Midtown.