They Want You Back at the Office

Previously, according to Rebecca Humphrey, Executive Vice President at Savills and head of the Workplace Practice Group, companies had little interest in spending on such services. “A customer would say I don’t want to pay for it, I just want this deal to be done,” she said. “The pandemic has postponed that.”

Her Savills colleague, Mr Lipson, said he saw possible changes even for some of the staunch traditionalists, such as white-shoe law firms in Washington. “Older partners went home last March thinking my paper, I can’t do without my paper and I can’t do without my assistant right outside my office,” he said. “Then they billed the same number of hours the next week and thought, ‘huh, that went better than I thought?'”

Given that companies anticipate and respond to change, real estate firms may play a new role for the scapegoat.

For companies with employees who are reluctant to return to the office, the consultant’s seal of approval can provide credibility – and a reason to get office workers to return.

“We’re very helpful in playing bad guys,” said Ms. Humphrey. “It helps when sending messages to say that we brought in the outside people.”

Sixteen stories up in a quiet midtown Manhattan skyscraper, Joseph J. Sitt jumped up and pointed to a television headline encouraging him: Remote working would soon end for New York City government employees. He had been looking for such a signal. “When he won’t have any more workers in the office,” he said, “who is that?”

Mr. Sitt, Managing Director of Thor Equities, reopened his own workplace last July, revealing a so-called “Covid conference room” with more spacious chairs in the shade. (“I think I should call it the socially distant conference room,” he corrected himself.) He expected it to be “forcibly reopened.”

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