Technology firms have spent the past months pushing their return-to-office plans deeper into the future. Google—which is building a large city HQ in Hudson Square—said Monday it will keep its workers home through at least July 2021. Twitter has told employees they can work remotely for as long as they want. Facebook will shift thousands of its employees to remote work, CEO Mark Zuckerberg has pledged.
Those companies lead a sector that has been New York’s fastest-growing, leasing the most new office square footage last year. About 270,000 people work in technology-related jobs in the city, up 20% from 2015, according to a recent data analysis by teh real estate brokerage CBRE. The size of the city’s technology labor pool is second only to California’s Bay Area.
Interestingly, the workers who would leave New York did not cite the cost of living as their top concern. While 22% of those workers told Hired that they would seek a place with a lower cost of living, 31% said they are simply looking to experience someplace new. A much higher percentage—47%—of workers who said they would leave the Bay Area cited cost of living.
The good news for nervous city apartment brokers is that the majority of New York tech workers—the remaining 60%—don’t plan to go anywhere, even if they are working remote.
It also remains to be seen how many technology companies will commit to remote operations. During a Crain’s panel discussion last week, startup founders were mostly cold to the idea of an office-less life.
“I know companies do it well, but I can’t imagine this idea of existing with everyone remote and never seeing each other in the office, it feels inhuman and doesn’t work for us,” said Daniel Ramot, the CEO of Via, the Manhattan-based transit technology company.
At Foursquare, executive chairman and co-founder Dennis Crowley said the firm is keeping its Manhattan offices open for those who wish to work there but staying flexible for those more comfortable at home.
“There is going to be a good balance between working from home—which a lot of people really got good at quick—and working in the office, where you can be productive in different types of ways,” Crowley said. “A lot of companies will figure this out in different ways. But I don’t think the pendulum is swinging all the way to say this is the end of offices.”