Dear Mayor Adams:
I am one of the last lonely bulls on NYC office. (Almost) everyone else thinks I don’t have a clue or that I have just lost my marbles.
In addition, I am proud that New York always finds a way to not only survive but to thrive and reinvent itself for greater success, now for close to 500 years.
Finally, I love New York – just like you do.
All of this, I believe, entitles me to suggest to you that allowing government employees to work from home would be a mistake.
I know certain groups that have significant voting power are pressuring you, but I ask you to stand firm against this decision.
There are a few reasons that I will highlight to you:
First – and most obviously, offices are the most challenged asset class in NYC. Anything that promulgates the emptiness of offices will just make this worse.
Second – office building values dropping – or even having their owners go into bankruptcy – will be severely detrimental to the City’s tax base.
Third – possibly worse – there are a ton of businesses that depend on office occupancy for survival, e.g. restaurants and numerous other businesses located nearby or in the buildings themselves. There is an ecosystem, all of which depends on people coming to the office. If these businesses go under or lose profitability it leads to (i) even more erosion of the City’s tax base, (ii) vacant storefronts, and (iii) higher unemployment.
Fourth – along the same lines, public transit systems are just coming out of their funk, and this will push them in the wrong direction.
Fifth – one of the toughest things about government workers is their interaction with the people they are supposed to service, i.e. the public. This is tricky enough without exacerbating it by allowing government workers not to be physically present.
Sixth – one of the high points you have raised during your tenure as Mayor is how critical it is to get crime under control. A bunch of closed businesses and deserted streets are going to be a witch’s cauldron for increases in crime.
Seventh – you have been seeking to lead by example by exhorting business leaders and employees to come back to the office. Allowing governmental employees a different standard undermines your leadership on this critical point.
Eighth – and finally – the government has a certain inexorability about it; namely, things that the government starts in action can never stop. This decision – if allowed – will be forever. I mean, imagine the hue and cry ten years from now if someone suggests that people that have become used to working from home have to come to the office.
I am sure it is incredibly difficult to be Mayor of the most wonderful – yet intricate – city on the planet, and you have pressures from all sides to make the right judgments.
I have no monopoly on what is the right judgment call; however, I do hope you will take the foregoing into account as you come to a decision.
Bruce Stachenfeld aka The Real Estate Philosopher™