Jamie Dimon may have been off by a year, but New York City’s offices are finally starting to fill up.
In May 2021, the JPMorgan chief executive predicted that the percentage of workers in offices in the city would be back to normal by the following fall. “Yes, the commute, you know, yes, people don’t like commuting, but so what?” Dimon said in his not-so-empathic way at the Wall Street Journal CEO Summit.
As a Covid wave prognosticator and expert on worker psychology, the bank CEO failed. But his view of bringing workers back is getting closer to reality.
Nearly half of office workers (49%) are back in New York City on an average weekday, up from 38% in April, according to the latest data this week from the Partnership for New York City, which has been tracking office occupancy as a vital sign for New York’s economy. Fully remote office worker levels are now down to 16%, from 28% in April.
But as far as making that unwelcome commute again, only 9% of office workers are doing it full time, according to the survey.
Hybrid work is the expectation, and that is not a new finding in the organization’s research, with 77% of employers saying it will be “predominant post-pandemic policy,” due to employee feedback. But the latest data shows that the largest share of employees on a hybrid schedule are in the office three days a week — 37% three days; 12% four days; 15% two days; 11% one day.
Public transit data is showing the increase in returning workers as well. The 3.7 million subway riders daily this week was the most since March 2020, and commuter rails also hit levels in recent weeks not seen since the pandemic began.
If the Partnership’s data proves correct, more than half of all office workers will be back either three days (42%) or four days (12%) per week by January. And the percentage of those fully remote will decline further, to 12%.
Wylde conceded it isn’t easy, and worker resistance remains. “Old habits are hard to break, and for two and a half years, people have been working at home, working remotely, and we’ve have had four false starts in getting back to the office.”