A Stanford analysis shows a 53% reduction in how much time San Francisco workers are spending in the office compared to pre-pandemic, the largest cutback on office time of any major city’s workforce in the country.
It was just over one month ago when San Francisco Mayor London Breed launched her campaign to get SF office workers to knock off all this working from home and go work in their downtown offices again. This was an all-stick, no-carrot approach from the workers’ perspective, an odd, loyalty test asking downtown businesses to implement “return to in-person work policies through the ‘Welcome Back to SF’ pledge.” (“pledge?”)
“By pledging to Welcome Back to SF, each of these companies is committed to implementing return to in-person work policies in March,” Breed office said in a March 3 release.
Well it isn’t March anymore, so how’s that going? Not great! Not relative to other major U.S. cities, at least, as Bloomberg reports that San Francisco workers are spending the least amount of time in the office, or rather, the most time out of the office, of the eight major cities whose office workplaces they surveyed. The data is based on a study by Stanford University Economics Professor Nicholas Bloom.
San Francisco has the highest current out-of-the-office rate, at 53.3%. New York City is just behind, at 49.1%. Phoenix, Dallas, and L.A. are bunched up at 47% and change, while Chicago has the lowest out-of-office rate at 43.9%.
This is not at all surprising. San Francisco’s proximity to Silicon Valley (and many of those tech companies having offices here) has rubbed off on us, so we too expect nice perks and generous work-from-home policies. Some tech companies that were aggressive about returning to the office about-faced amidst worker backlash. And labor holds the cards in this job market, so maybe it’s not a bad thing for workers to be able to call the shots on which days they’re coming in.
This will probably get framed that San Francisco office workers are lazy, or insufficiently invested in a downtown recovery. This is hogwash. For one, this assessment only covers office workers, not any other sectors. Hospitality, bars, and restaurants seem to be rebounding nicely, as is tourism.
And considering that SF had one of the lowest COVID death rates of any U.S. city during the pandemic, maybe we know a thing or two about how to conduct ourselves in these trying times.
Image: @sandcrain via Unsplash