The Partnership for New York City surveyed more than 140 major Manhattan office employers between January 5 and January 28, 2023, to gauge the extent to which employees have returned to the office or are still working remotely.
As of late January 2023, 52% of Manhattan office workers are currently at their workplace on an average weekday, up from 49% in September 2022. Only 9% of employees are in the office five days a week, unchanged from September. The share of office employees that are fully remote dropped from 16% in September 2022 to 10% as of late January.
Return to office rates are approaching employers’ expected “new normal” occupancy rates of 56%.
Consistent with past surveys, 82% of employers indicated a hybrid office schedule will be their predominant policy in 2023. For employers with a hybrid model, the survey reports that 59% of employees are in the office at least three days a week.
Many employers expanded New York City headcount during the pandemic and remain committed to the city: 40% increased their New York City headcount during the pandemic and 38% maintained headcount levels; only 21% decreased headcount. About half (48%) of employers expect to increase their New York City workforce, 45% expect to maintain current headcount, and only 7% expect to reduce headcount.
While 29% of employers have reduced their real estate footprint since February 2020, 17% increased their footprint and 54% had no change. A larger share of employers (26%) expect to increase their real estate footprint over the next five years than expect to reduce it (18%); the majority (56%) expect to maintain their current footprint.
The Partnership survey of employers found:
On an average weekday, 52% of Manhattan office workers are in the workplace as of late January 2023.
- 9% of Manhattan office workers are in the office full time (five days a week)
- 15% are in four days per week
- 35% are in three days per week
- 18% are in two days per week
- 12% are in one day per week
- 10% of Manhattan office workers are fully remote
Employers project 56% will be the “new normal” average daily occupancy in Manhattan offices.
- 10% of Manhattan office workers are expected to be in the workplace five days per week
- 16% will be in four days per week
- 40% will be in three days per week
- 17% will be in two days per week
- 9% will be in one day per week
- 7% of Manhattan office workers will still be fully remote
The real estate industry has the highest average daily attendance (80%) as of late January, followed by financial services (59%) and law (58%).
- Real estate firms expect a “new normal” of 81% average daily office attendance; financial services firms expect 62%; law firms expect 61%.
- The tech industry has a 43% average daily office attendance as of late January, which is expected to increase to a “new normal” of 49%.
Office attendance increased among larger firms:
- Among firms with more than 5,000 employees, 49% of employees are currently in the office on the average weekday—up from 44% in September 2022 and 31% in April 2022—with expectations of a 53% “new normal” average daily occupancy.
- Among firms with fewer than 500 employees, 59% of employees have returned to the office on the average weekday, up slightly from 54% in the fall. Average daily attendance is expected to increase to a “new normal” of 62%.
The Partnership also asked employers about their office attendance policies:
- 82% of employers will have a hybrid schedule in 2023; only 9% require daily attendance. The remainder rely on departmental discretion (7%) or employee discretion (2%).
- Among companies with additional offices outside of New York City, the vast majority (92%) said their remote work policy is uniform across geographies; 5% said their New York City office(s) offers more remote work flexibility than offices outside the city and 3% said their New York City office(s) offer less flexibility.
- Half of companies are still offering incentives to employees who return to the office, down from 59% in September. Common incentives include social activities (38% offering), free or discounted meals (36%), transportation subsidies (7%), and child care support (3%).
New to this survey, the Partnership asked employers to evaluate the impact of remote work and their new office attendance policy. In most instances, a plurality of companies indicated that remote work had no impact on business outcomes/company dynamics. See the table below for detailed data.
|Category||No impact||Negative impact||Positive impact|
The Partnership asked employers the primary reason why employees resist returning to the office. Most commonly cited objections include:
- Remote work offers greater flexibility (57% of companies cite this as employees’ primary reason for not wanting to return to the office)
- Productivity working from home equals or surpasses the office (11%)
- Length and/or cost of commute (11%)
- Public transit is not safe or reliable (6%)
- In the Partnership’s September 2022 survey, 24% of companies cited lack of safety or reliability on public transit as employees’ primary objection.
- Other companies and colleagues are not back in the office (3%)
- Fear of COVID-19 or other illness (3%)
- 7% of companies cited a combination of the above factors. Only 1% of companies cited difficulty managing child care duties as the main driver of negative employee feedback.
The Partnership asked employers whether they expanded their presence in the city during the pandemic:
- 40% of employers increased their New York City headcount during the pandemic (since February 2020).
- 21% of employers decreased their headcount during the pandemic and 38% maintained headcount levels.
- 29% decreased their New York City real estate footprint during the pandemic; most companies maintained (54%) or increased (17%) their footprint.
- When asked to project New York City headcount levels over the next five years, about half (48%) expect to increase their New York City workforce, 45% expect to maintain current headcount, and only 7% expect to reduce headcount.
- Most employers (56%) expect no change in their real estate footprint over the next five years, 26% expect to expand, and 18% expect to downsize.
- The majority of respondents are in financial services (37%), real estate (17%), law (11%), tech (6%), media (6%), and consulting (4%).
- The majority of surveyed employers have offices in Midtown West (54%), Midtown East (23%), or the Financial District (15%).