DBP publishes report on return to office trends among Downtown Brooklyn area companies
Survey findings reveal how local firms are navigating the pandemic and a changing work landscape
November 23, 2021
As the city’s vaccination rate rises and more firms are bringing staff back to the office, Downtown Brooklyn Partnership (DBP) wanted to find out directly from local firms on how they were adapting office occupancy and operations to the post-pandemic landscape. DBP’s recently-released report, Return to Office Trends in Downtown Brooklyn, reflects findings from surveys conducted over August and September 2021 by DBP in partnership with the DUMBO Improvement District and the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. More than 50 local firms, ranging from small startups to large, well-established companies, shared their perspectives and allowed DBP to provide a more complete picture of the trends and perceptions around the resumption of in-office operations.
The new report reveals that, at the time of being surveyed, 48% of firms have reopened their offices, compared to only 23% of firms in Manhattan1. This trend is expected to increase in the coming months, and by early 2022, 78% of surveyed firms are projected to be back in the office to some extent. Companies’ reasons for returning to the workplace differ based on size, industry, staff preferences. Factors such as increased productivity, morale, and high vaccination rates among staff have also guided firms’ decision-making. For companies in the creative industry in particular, the move to remote work during the pandemic highlighted the shortcomings of remote work and the value of in-person creative collaboration.
Downtown Brooklyn area firms have demonstrated flexibility in addressing the needs of their employees and modifying work policies and operations in response to the pandemic. Hybrid work schedules, mandatory proof of vaccination, and improved office design/amenities are among many changes that firms are making to adapt to a post-pandemic landscape. For example, Ultravirgo, a branding and design agency based in Downtown Brooklyn, is searching for a larger office with more amenities such as meeting spaces and a kitchen. Additionally, the majority of surveyed firms have either maintained their staff counts or are actively hiring despite pandemic-related challenges.
The report also highlights the fact that, in addition to Downtown Brooklyn-based firms staying committed to the area, companies have a newfound interest in relocating to Brooklyn2. The neighborhood’s robust public transportation system, relatively affordable office space3, and convenience for the increasing number of employees residing in Brooklyn, are key factors guiding firms’ decisions to stay in or move to Brooklyn.
1 Partnership for New York City, Return to Office Survey Results, August 2021.
2 Nicole Hong, Is Brooklyn leading New York out of the Pandemic?, September 1, 2021.
3 Cushman and Wakefield, New York City Area Marketbeat Reports, October 2021.