New York City will conduct a new in-depth study of the impact of hybrid working on transportation and the economy following “long-term shifts” in travel patterns first triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic. 19.
The federally funded study will be conducted by the city’s planning department and will analyze a series of data points provided by cellphones used in office buildings and other locations to better understand people’s movements. .
“Using mobile phone mobility datasets, this project seeks to establish a better understanding of current and future work and non-work travel behaviors,” reads a description of the plan outlined in a 2023-24 budget report. drafted by the New York Regional Metropolitan Transportation Council.
“Using cell phone data enables understanding of travel behavior, economic activity, footfall and significant mobility patterns with more accurate location and time information than previously accessible data.”
The draft report explains the need for a “comprehensive analysis” of the shift to remote working to “guide future decisions regarding the region’s transportation network and economic growth strategy.”
Funding for the project is set at $501,789.
The agency just awarded a $99,000 contract to Placer Labs Inc. to provide some of the data.
Placer analyzes foot traffic in 800 office buildings across the country.
The city’s Department of Transportation will also conduct a related analysis of the “long-term implication of telecommuting” on the miles traveled by motorists during the workday.
During the pandemic, a DOT survey found nearly half of the workforce was working from home.
The new DOT study will build on that survey and target people living in “low density areas of NYC,” such as suburban neighborhoods with single-family and two-family homes.
Trends indicate that the hybrid work schedule – working some days in the office and others at home – is here to stay.
Midweek subway ridership is still only 70% of pre-virus levels, according to the MTA.
Manhattan workers are spending at least $12.4 billion less a year than before the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a February report.
The change put a significant dent in the city’s tax revenue.
The prognosis is particularly worrying for owners of commercial office space.
An industry report released last week said the impact of hybrid working could reduce the value of office buildings by 44% with fewer employees occupying them.
Placer, the city entrepreneur, said in a recent blog post that the hybrid work structure is here to stay.
They say office visits in Manhattan were down 37.5% in the first quarter of 2023 compared to 2019 before the pandemic.
“Month-over-month data also shows that the average number of office visits per workday has not changed significantly over the past few months,” Placer’s Lila Margalit said in the blog post.
“As we noted, the persistence of this pattern appears to reflect a new hybrid normal, which sees employees come in less frequently and focus on mid-week visits. This holding pattern seems to indicate a stalled recovery.
Margalit said “foot traffic data indicates the continued strength of the hybrid model” and that the back-to-office push “does not yet appear to have moved the needle significantly overall.”
“In the future, hybrid work arrangements that offer employers and workers the best of both worlds could be here to stay,” Margalit said.
A representative from the Planning Department said the work-from-home study is consistent with its ongoing research into changes in the Big Apple.
“In general, we are constantly monitoring work and commuting habits to reinforce our planning efforts; no immediate policy changes are expected,” DCP spokesman Casey Berkovitz said.
A business advocate representing the city’s biggest businesses and financial firms insisted that the era of office work is not over.
“New York City attracts ambitious people who appreciate the importance of being there, in person, in order to grow professionally and build relationships. The ‘new normal’ is flexibility, not remote work or office culture will continue to be important,” said Kathryn Wylde, CEO of The Partnership for the City of New York.
New York Post