About a third of San Franciscans expect permanent remote work

Workers inside an office building in San Francisco, California, US, on March 21, 2022. Breed is planning a series of events, called Bloom SF, to lure workers back to offices, with offerings such as concerts, food trucks and fitness classes throughout downtown. — Bloomberg

About a third of San Francisco area voters in a poll by the Bay Area Council said they expect to do their jobs from home permanently, a shift that could subdue the level of growth of the tech hub hit hard by the rise of remote work.

Indeed, about 68% of those surveyed by the business group are concerned about the future of the economy in the region, whose recovery of jobs that were lost during the height of the pandemic continues to lag that of the state and the nation.

In the poll, 29% of respondents working remotely for at least part of their time said they were also going to a workplace, and 23% said they expect to do so within six months. In addition, the share of voters who said they feel safe returning to “normal” has almost tripled from last year to 30%, while 12% – double that of last year – said that will never happen. Nearly a quarter said it will take a year to three for a return to normal.

“Restoring public confidence for returning to work, transit, downtowns and all the other activities that make life worth living must be among our highest priorities,” said Jim Wunderman, president and chief executive officer of the council, in a statement. “We may never be completely rid of Covid and its impacts, but the time has come to move forward.”

San Francisco, with its heavy concentration of tech employers, is particularly vulnerable to remote work that has kept workers out of downtown offices. Mayor London Breed has been aggressively promoting a return to normalcy and drawing commitments from employers to bring staff back to reinvigorate San Francisco’s economy.

The San Francisco metropolitan area had only about 32% of office workers back at their desks as of March 30, the lowest share among 10 US cities, according to security company Kastle Systems.

The survey was conducted March 2-9 with 1,000 registered voters over the nine-county Bay Area and has margin of error of 3.1 percentage points. – Bloomberg

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