Remote Work is Great and Killing Cities

The verdict is in: employees want the flexibility to work remotely. There are overwhelming personal and organizational benefits to remote work. This remote revolution is exciting, but our large cities economies are not prepared for the unintended consequences, namely, decreased tax revenues from companies downsizing their office spaces. In New York City only half of employees are in the office on a typical day. Nationally only 47% of offices are occupied on any given day.

Remote work and office space utlizastion

There are cascading effects of half full office spaces including decreased transit fares, retail, and service industry utilization to name a few. Some economists expect large cities tax revenues to be reduced by as much as 30% as companies downsize. As we shift out of our reptilian brain (Covid driven) and adjust to the new normal we can become less reactive and more intentional.

An article from New York magazine last week identified the option to convert empty office space into much needed housing. Workforce shortages are forcing all industries to examine use of AI and technological solutions to fill the need for low to medium skill jobs.

There are exciting times even though it doesn’t feel like it to most of us. Prioritize family and friends, your health and take a step back to reflect. I’m not certain if we will be entering a recession, whether Ukraine will repel Russia or if the next presidential election will further divide our country.

I do know that putting people first in our individual, corporate and societal decision making is difficult but critical to the survival of our cities, companies, and people. Fear breeds fear. As boring as tax revenues and corporate space planning may be, there is a win-win-win in there somewhere. Consider reducing your company’s physical footprint and making room for living. Remote work doesn’t need to kill anything. Conversely it could improve everyone’s lives.