Small Business Spotlight: What NYC’s New Normal Will Look Like this Fall
By Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso
NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — The post-pandemic future could be a win-win for workers.
Many businesses are preparing to welcome their employees back to the office after Labor Day, but they’ll be returning to a new normal.
“I think this time there’s going to be much more of an interconnected expansion and that that you’ll have more people that might be working in satellite offices or remotely in the suburbs, have a quality of life that’s more affordable, more open space, but then be able to come to the city when they want to be in the city and interconnect with these companies,” said Scott Rechler, chairman and CEO of RXR Realty, which owns large office buildings in New York City and the suburbs.
On the WCBS Small Business Spotlight, sponsored by Dime Community Bank, Rechler told Joe Connolly and Neil A. Carousso he expects both the city and the suburbs to recover “collectively.” He said most of his business tenants anticipate being back in September, but not at full capacity.
“We need to start reimagining a post-pandemic playbook,” he said.
That playbook includes hybrid schedules and a redesign of the city.
“There’s some office buildings and there’s frankly some retail buildings and hotels that just will not be competitive in a post-COVID world,” said Rechler. “The right thing to do in that instance is to convert them to multi-family.”
The Regional Plan Association Chairman told WCBS 880 adding multi-family apartments in place of empty office buildings could improve New York’s affordability and attract people to work and live in the five boroughs.
New apartment leases in Manhattan are at record levels as tenants gobble up rentals at a discount while preparing to return to offices. The number of new leases increased fourfold in May from the year previous to 9,491, according to Miller Samuel Inc. and Douglas Elliman Real Estate.
“(It) gives me confidence that people believe in the future of New York,” said Rechler, adding, “If they’re here, the big companies that want to attract that talent, that bring that talent in to grow their businesses, are going to be here as well. So, it’s a great leading indicator of what’s to come.”
Rechler, who oversaw the redevelopment of the World Trade Center as the vice chairman of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, told Connolly and Carousso hybrid work schedules are here to stay, though, because there is a “quality of life” balance that many people have enjoyed while working from home.
He’s advising businesses, telling them, “Don’t be a prisoner of the past, be a pioneer of the future.”
While productivity was high during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020, the developer said businesses are finding productivity is slumping now that the U.S. has largely reopened 15 months after the initial shutdown.
“This is about bringing people back so they can build culture, they can have mentorship, collaboration, a sense of community, and create that corporate value set that makes their team members feel part of something bigger,” Rechler said. “You’re not going to get that if everyone’s in different satellite offices.”
See how developers are planning New York City’s post-pandemic future on the Small Business Spotlight video above.