2022 began with New York City getting a new mayor. Eric Adams has only been at the helm of the Big Apple for a short time, but he’s wasting none of it when it comes to NY’s economic recovery. Fola Akinnibi writing for Bloomberg reports how Mr. Adams is coaxing CEOs to end remote work policies to get people back into the city to work.
The mayor said he met with 100 chief executive officers this week as part of scheduled meetings his office has with both small businesses and corporations in the city. He used the meeting to coax them into participating in his summer youth jobs expansion and to get their workers back into the office to stimulate the city’s economy.Bloomberg
“Now is the time for us to get back,” Adams said in a press conference for his first budget presentation. “I’m hoping within the next few weeks the CEOs map out a real plan of ‘this is when you need to come back.’”
Citigroup workers in the New York City region were asked to prepare to come back to the office last week, while Wells Fargo & Co. said it’s planning to bring employees back to the office in mid-March. Still, only 28% of workers are swiping into offices in the New York metro area, according to data from security company Kastle Systems as of Feb. 9. “It’s time to get back to work,” Adams said. “The time frame is now. I’m going to work.”
I get what Adams trying to do here. If workers are not coming into the city to work, tons of buildings remain empty. Businesses supporting those employees like restaurants, shops, trains, and taxis will also suffer from the loss of business. The mayor is using his power to try to shift the focus on how to best recover.
However, and you know where I’m going to go here, this is not something a company can easily mandate. It doesn’t matter who is pressuring them. Yes, Citigroup and Wells Fargo are asking employees to return. The key is “asking” people to return. Yes, there are people who thrive on in-person interactions. But the job space is highly-competitive and people do not need to abide by these demands. Remote work or even a hybrid option is table stakes now.
The mayor can coax all he wants. However, the decision rests with companies who need to balance their businesses with the threat of a workforce who does not want to come in every day. And if there is widespread resistance, these companies won’t have any employees left to coax.