In an interview with Bloomberg News earlier this week, San Francisco Mayor London Breed commented on the lack of remote workers returning to offices across the city, saying that the low office vacancy rates are prompting her to attempt to attract new types of businesses to the downtown area .
“Life as we knew it before the pandemic is not going to go back,” Breed told Bloomberg News. “This whole work-from-home thing is here to stay.”
The outlet noted that attitude represents a shift for breed, who tried a myriad of tactics to bring workers back. The report said office vacancies in San Francisco struck a record high of 25.5% in the third quarter, and return-to-office rates have hovered around 40% of pre-pandemic levels, representing one of the lowest rates among large metros areas in the U.S
Breed told Bloomberg News that the number of city employees who have returned to work is smaller than expected.
“We thought people would miss working around other people, but they do not,” she said.
The remote work policies of tech companies are part of the problem, Breed said. She pointed to Salesforce, the large software company headed in part by Marc Benioff, as an example. Salesforce is the city’s largest private employer, and its offices occupy San Francisco’s tallest office tower.
“[Marc is] very supportive of the city, continues to contribute that support to schools and to other great causes, but the building is empty, and that’s a real problem,” Breed said. “Ultimately I can’t force or mandate, right? These companies are making the decisions that they believe that are in their best interests.”
Breed’s point is that a lack of workers in the office hurts the city’s economy. Empty buildings depress property values, which affects the amount the city makes in property tax revenue. Workers are also using public transportation at lower rates, and are spending less on goods at local businesses since they spend more time inside their homes.
Without returning employees to in-person work at higher rates, Breed said she’ll be attempting to coax businesses in growing industries, such as biotechnology and green technology, to fill empty office space.
You can read the entire Bloomberg News article here.