Competition for parking spaces is increasing. Migrations are progressing. Lounges at workplaces are filled with excitement as junior partners play skeet shooting. What’s the discussion about going back to the office? In some parts of the country, this has already been resolved.
“I don’t know anyone in Columbus who is completely remote,” said Grant Plosser, 35, who works at a financial services firm.
In October 2020, Blosser began returning to his Columbus (Ohio) office five days a week. He joked with the young explorers, one of whom had recently pulled his team Hot iGA (It “kicked our asses”). He studied his book club exam in the car (currently a biography of Winston Churchill). She said it was a relief to feel the “separation of church and state” leaving home every day.
“Most everyone I know is in the office,” he said. “The news I’ve read about people dragging themselves back into the office is about certain companies and certain cities.”
More than two years into the pandemic, American corporate workplaces Piece by piece. Some are just as packed as they were before Covid-19; Others are abandoned, printers off and coffee cups gathering dust. Workers in medium-sized and small cities in the U.S. returned to the office in greater numbers than those in large U.S. cities.
Although some executives in big cities have been held back by health and safety concerns, they hope to bounce back Public transport travelas well as competitive job markets in which employees make decisions.
In small cities with fewer than 300,000 residents, the share of full, paid days worked from home fell to 27% this spring, down from 42% in October 2020. In the 10 largest U.S. cities, days worked at home have changed to about 38. % from 50% over the same period, according to a team of researchers from Stanford and other institutions led by economists Steven Davis, Nick Bloom and Jose Maria Barreiro.
According to Davies, offices were filling up faster in areas where Covid lockdowns were less severe and commutes by car were less frequent. Many cities in California and New York have taken longer to return to office than Florida and Texas.
“‘Weird’ is one word. ‘Jealous’ is another,” said Brett Hairston, an office worker in Columbus who describes his feelings about going to the office regularly when he finds out that many people don’t know.
While some corporate executives find themselves embroiled in tense discussions about the company’s future, others believe the debate is over, at least for them. “In some ways, it’s the opposite of a narrative,” said Matt Lanter, 33, co-founder of OpenStore, a Miami-based e-commerce company that has 100 employees in full-time offices. “There’s really nothing to talk about because people have been in office for the last year or two.”
Civic leaders everywhere don’t want people to turn away. Your ads are getting mixed results. “Downtown is back,” Columbus Mayor Andrew Ginther said this spring. “Back to work, back to fun.” oh Mayor Eric Adams “You can’t be at home in your pajamas,” he told New Yorkers. However, many stayed.
The regional gap in return-to-office patterns is notable in the share of online job postings that allow remote work. In San Francisco, California, 26% of employers now allow remote work, compared to 19% in New York. In Columbus, only 13% of job openings allow remote work; In Houston, the figure was 12.6%; And in Birmingham, Alabama, just 10.4%, according to another team of researchers led by Davis, Bloom and Raffaella Satun of the Harvard School of Economics.
Some workers cross the border between these two countries. Ann Ali, who moved back to her hometown near Fort Myers, Florida years ago from Alexandria, Virginia, is the only person who works remotely. She avoids driving anywhere between 7 a.m. and 9:30 a.m., because the waves of public commutes create endless traffic. In the afternoons, he stops by the grocery store where he is the cashier, taking advantage of the short lines while others are at work.
“A lot of people don’t really understand how it works: How do you work remotely? What do you do? How do you deal with not sleeping in the afternoon?” Ali, who works in technology, said. “I don’t talk about it until the neighbors ask because I don’t like it. Highlight these social differences.”
Americans have always experienced the workplace in starkly different ways: doctors spend long shifts on their feet, truck drivers on the road, and knowledge workers hunched over computers. But now people in the same profession can have very different work arrangements depending on where their desks are located.
Gabe Tucker, 26, is an attorney at Fortif Law Partners in Birmingham, Alabama, where the percentage of job postings that allow remote work is half that of New York. Every morning, Tucker puts on a dress shirt, drives 15 minutes, and arrives at the office around 8 am. His routine, in other words, is the same as he had before the pandemic started (no need to wear a tie anymore). At night, he and his colleagues sometimes drink to celebrate a deal. They returned to the office in June 2020 with masks and more Precautions against covid.
“It’s a regular job, pretty much,” Tucker said. “It’s hard for us to work remotely. We all want to be around each other.”
Some researchers fear that differing expectations about flexibility in the workplace are contributing to another form of polarization in people’s lives during the pandemic.
“One of the things that limits us is going to work,” said Bloom, a Stanford professor who studies hybrid work, where workplaces no longer serve as social anchors for some people. “Half the country has a different experience than the rest.”
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