New York City Will Bring Its Employees Back to the Office on May 3


New York City will call all of its employees back to the office on May 3 as the city sees rising vaccination figures and lower coronavirus cases, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

The move will affect about 80,000 city employees who have been working remotely for more than a year as part of emergency measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, The New York Times first reported.

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While the bulk majority of city workers do frontline work — like police officers or firefighters — the return to the workplace serves as a symbolic milestone for the city as employees trickle back to office buildings.

“We’re going to use all of the tools that we’ve learned about distancing, ventilation and the right way to lay out workspaces, but we need our city workers back in the offices,” de Blasio said at a press conference on Tuesday. “It’s also going to send a powerful message for our city moving forward.

“This is an important step for the city and it’s an important step on the way to the full recovery in New York City,” de Blasio added.

New York City currently leases more than 22 million square feet of office space in the five boroughs, space that has gone mostly unused during the pandemic as the city, along with private companies, asked staff to work from home.

By October, fewer than 10 percent of Manhattan’s office-using employees headed to the office on any given workday, a survey from the business group, Partnership for New York City, found.

Leasing activity plunged, while Manhattan’s availability rate for office hit record highs and sublease space started to flood the market. However, in Midtown — the city’s premier office district — new data suggests that the worst might be over for the neighborhood.

De Blasio previously stated that he would start to bring city employees back to the office in May, but set a date for it only on Tuesday. As part of the plan, masks will be required for workers who can’t socially distance, de Blasio said.

Because of legal concerns, vaccines will not be mandatory for staffers coming back to the office, but de Blasio said the return plans were being done with “a health and safety-first perspective.”

And New York City isn’t alone in starting to call its employees back to the office.

Morgan Stanley (MS) told Commercial Observer it plans to fully return its workers to its Midtown headquarters “when it is safe to do so.” Microsoft also announced that its Redmond, Wash., office will have a “soft open” starting on March 29 and allow non-essential staff back.