“Have you seen the latest episode of the latest Prestige TV show that suits your interests?”
Photo illustration: Intelligencer; Photo: Getty Images

The new governor of New York, who recently spoke at a “power breakfast” for the Association for a Better New York, a group whose board members range from one of the city’s most powerful publicists to government lobbyists for real estate developers to a government lobbyist for Lyft , up to the communications person for ConEd, took an unexpected and energetic stance: “It’s time to go back to the office.”

Oooh, why – are we all getting raises ??? No. “The offices are still too empty and too many workers at home,” she sums up on Twitter. This is what toddlers everywhere recognize as not a reason.

Boris Johnson, both the UK Prime Minister and apparently Ghislaine Maxwell’s flirtatious school friend, said something even stranger and wanted to instigate a return to office: “Mother Nature doesn’t like working from home.” That has the strength to at least sound like a new, weird, almost mystical idea. What exactly does Mother Nature like about work?

And of course Hearst put on his bossy pants and told some employees that they had to come back to work – first one, then two, then finally three days a week. So far, workers have declined the invitation and also filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board citing this as a change in workplace policy without adequate negotiation. Hearst, who hasn’t been that happy with organizing historically, must be pissed off.

All of this happens when politicians and bosses speak directly to their shareholders and board members and forget that we can hear them too. Of course, shareholders believe we should be in an office. Manpower? Well we are everywhere, but we tend to disagree. Why should we care that some chopts have to die so we can live better? Things change.

The elite of workers – there are many useful descriptions for us, but let’s just use it as an acronym, “people assigned laptops when they get a job” – replenishes Manhattan. The cool buildings are actually slowly filling up again; the queues for the Midtown carts have returned; the Los Tacos No. 1 of Grand Central is booming. Lunch trips to the gym are back; the yoga lessons are again synchronous breathing. Rough, honest! It’s the return of Manhattan fun coat season. Commuting twice a week turns out to be cute. Night drives home with the car service; bad office coffee; a fresh and increasingly bite-sized group of Associates, Interns, and Juniors – sure, they’re getting younger, but you really are getting older, especially since you’ve aged twice as recently.

However, New York City is nowhere near full on a Tuesday afternoon. And it won’t arrive this Christmas.

The latest projections assume the Manhattan office will be half full by January. At the same time, real estate prospects pump out dramatic reports of hardship and plummeting tax coffers as they celebrate their profits – an interesting mess of messages.

Overall, office space in Midtown was recently just under 14 percent vacancy, according to real estate company CBRE – that’s still about double the Manhattan-wide low from the end of 2019.

But real estate firms have declared a booming third quarter with a return to huge amounts of rented inventory. And the average rents in Midtown are still nearly $ 80 per square foot.

You will be surprised that shareholders and landlords will continue to make money. It’s almost like somehow they always find a way.

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