The monsters of the office are trying to go back to 2019

“I’m trying to fill the office buildings and I’m telling JPMorgan, Goldman Sachs, I’m telling all of them, ‘Listen, I need your people to get back in charge so I can build the ecosystem.’” New York City Mayor Eric Adams said this this week. The city, which is heavily reliant on tax revenues from its huge Midtown offices, recently announced a strict in-person work policy for city employees.

“How do you feel the city employees are at home while I tell everyone else it’s time to go back to work?” Mr. Adams added. “City employees should be instructed to say, ‘New York can come back’.”

Beyond the bottom line, the back-to-office debate is about the kind of culture that will prevail when the business world emerges from the pandemic. And despite all the power wielded by Mr Musk, Mr Dimon and Mr Adams, they could fight a bigger change than any single company or city.

If the more than two years of experimenting with the remote work of the pandemic have taught us anything, there are many people can be productive outside the office, and many are happier to do so. This is especially true for people with small children either long journeysminority workers who have difficulty adjusting to standard office culture or those with other personal circumstances that have made office work less attractive.

“We are still struggling to let go of the stereotype of the ideal worker, even though that person, for many people, occupations and demographic groups in the United States, never really existed,” said Colleen Ammerman, director of the Harvard School of Gender Initiative. economy. “I think with remote work and hybrid we have the potential to really walk away from that and really rethink what it means to be on a leadership track, what it means to be a high-performing and step away from that associated being by being in the office. at all hours”.

Even as the pandemic has changed course, there are signs that the work-from-home trend is indeed accelerating. A recent one survey published in the National Bureau of Economic Research found that employers now say they will allow employees to work from home on average 2.3 days a week, up from 1.5 days in the summer of 2020.

It’s not just the office, it’s commuting too. The Wall Street Journal reported this week whereas nearly all major cities with the largest office occupancy declines during the pandemic had an average one-way commute of more than 30 minutes; and most cities with smaller elevation gains had shorter commutes.