From the NYT:
The competition for parking space is getting steeper. Commutes are inching longer. Workplace lounges are filling up with commotion as junior associates play cornhole. What return-to-office debate? In some parts of the country, it’s been settled.
“I know almost nobody in Columbus who is fully remote,” said Grant Blosser, 35, who works at a financial services firm.
In October 2020, Mr. Blosser started going back into his office in Columbus, Ohio, five days a week. He cracked jokes with the young analysts, one of whom recently dragged his team to hot yoga. (It “kicked our butts.”) He listened to his book club’s selection in the car (currently, a biography of Winston Churchill). It was a relief, he said, to feel the “separation of church and state” that came from leaving the house each day.
“Almost everybody I know is in an office most of the time here,” he said. “The headlines that I read about as far as people dragging their feet going back to the office are about select companies and select cities.”
More than two years into the pandemic, American corporate workplaces have splintered. Some are nearly as full as they were before Covid-19 struck; others sit abandoned, printers switched off and Keurig cups collecting dust. Workers in America’s midsize and small cities have returned to the office in far greater numbers than those in the biggest U.S. cities. Some executives in large cities are hoping they’ll catch up, though they’ve been impeded by safety and health concerns about mass transit commutes, as well as competitive job markets where employees are more likely to call the shots.
In small cities — those with populations under 300,000 — the share of paid, full days worked from home dropped to 27 percent this spring from around 42 percent in October 2020. In the 10 largest U.S. cities, days worked from home shifted to roughly 38 percent from 50 percent in that same period, according to a team of researchers at Stanford and other institutions led by the economists Steven Davis, Nick Bloom and Jose Maria Barrero.