First there were downtown business districts, then suburban office parks, then millennials who wanted to live and work in urban environments. 

And now the pendulum may swinging back again. 

The cost of living is increasingly high in downtown areas, and that great shape shifter —  the pandemic — has increased expectations that workers can avoid commutes altogether. And that is leading companies to again look at the suburbs for their office locations, according to an article in Forbes

“We very much appreciate how expensive it is getting for all our people to commute.” The chief executive continued, “We’re very mindful around that, as well as being flexible for working families, and providing them more options. Additional facilities and spaces for them to work, either at home or in New Jersey or Connecticut, are certainly things we’ve been looking at actively in the Tri-State area,” said Jane Fraser, CEO of Citigroup in Congressional testimony, according to the article. 

“There is a binary fight between workers who want to remain remote and the bosses who want them to return to an office five days a week. This tug of war has massive consequences for real estate in big cities, like New York, Chicago and San Francisco, and what the prevalent future of work will look like.”

In the first week following Labor Day, office usage in 10 major metro areas neared 50% of 2020’s pre-pandemic attendance, according to Kastle Systems, a key-card property management company that tracks entries into office buildings. There were more workers in the office that week than there have been since the pandemic started. However, in-office attendance is still lower than it was before the virus outbreak, the article reported.