San Francisco businesses confront many office workers never returning

By Romy Varghese, Bloomberg CityLab, March 3, 2022

“The tech hub, an economic boomtown over the last decade, is struggling with the nation’s weakest office occupancies, stubbornly low transit ridership, and one of the country’s slowest recoveries of jobs. White-collar employees embracing remote work have decamped to less pricey areas, raising the question of if they’ll ever come back.

“With Covid concerns receding and U.S. employers calling staff back to offices, San Francisco stands to be an important test case on the persistence of remote work and how a leading American city is forced to adapt.

“The San Francisco metro area has the lowest share of workers back at the office among 10 U.S. cities, according to swipe-card data from security company Kastle Systems, with about a quarter of employees returning as of Feb. 23. 

“California’s property-tax system is helping to keep San Francisco’s finances stable. Valuations for property-tax purposes are often well below market prices, so local governments have a cushion in downturns.”

Read the full article here. (~4 min.)

Also in Bloomberg CityLab (February 28, 2022), Alexandre Tanzi reports that the dramatic increase in telework nationwide is likely to be more persistent than many planners anticipated. 

“About 75 percent of the increase in telework over the course of the Covid-19 crisis will likely stick, according to a paper from researchers at Arizona State University, Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Dallas Federal Reserve.

“Cities [for example, Philadelphia and San Francisco] have been bracing for this in their five-year budgets. But their projections for the share of people who will continue to work from home rather than return to the city office might underestimate the magnitude of the shift.”

Read that article here.

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