Shielded windows, locked restaurants, and all office towers are empty … Ten months after the spread of the Corona epidemic, which turned famous business centers in New York into ghost towns, companies are wondering how to return their employees to their offices.
“If they don’t come back, we’re going to drown,” said Kenneth McClell, vice president of Hospitality Holdings, whose Midtown restaurant is usually packed with businessmen who come to discuss financial deals at lunch or a cup at work.
Threat to economic neighborhoods
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, as well as yellow taxis or Broadway theaters.”The customers we’d seen three, four or five times a week have simply disappeared” since last March, when New York faced the first wave of the pandemic, McCleur added. More than 26,000 people have died from the virus in the US economic capital so far.
According to Castle Systems, the company specializing 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. .
But with the arrival of vaccines against Corona, companies are looking for ways to encourage their employees to return.
About 80% of employees polled thought in a study published this month by the company, “PwC” that working remotely is 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.
Change the perception of workplaces
“A large majority say they prefer a hybrid system, with two or three days of work from home and two or three 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 may 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.