Two more major companies are delaying returns to the office amid the surging delta variant, the latest blow to the office market.
Microsoft planned to fully reopen its offices on Oct. 4, but has been forced to backtrack from that goal. The company isn’t setting a new return date, according to Bloomberg, but is planning on giving a 30-day notice before reopening so employees can prepare.
An internal survey reported by the outlet said the company isn’t planning on ditching in-person work altogether. Of those polled, 8 percent in non-managerial positions wanted to work in the office every day, better than managers’ predictions of just 1 percent. Still, it’s not clear when the return will happen.
Bloomberg also reports American Express delayed its office return for the third time. In June, the company was slated to reopen on Sept. 13 under a hybrid plan, which was then pushed to Oct. 11.
Unlike Microsoft, American Express does have a new target opening date: Jan. 24. The company employs about 22,700 people in the United States.
Companies across the country as recently as early in the summer aimed to bring employees back to the office after Labor Day. The holiday has come and gone, however, and the delta variant has left many desks unoccupied.
The long-term ramifications for the office market in major metro areas remain unclear, although the delays to in-person work likely spell trouble. Additionally, some companies are opening the door to permanent remote work.
The vacancy rate in Manhattan, the nation’s largest office market, was 16.9 percent in August, just below the record of 17.1 percent set in May and July. Anonymized data from Brivo shows office use remains weak across the country, at just 62 percent in Los Angeles, 49 percent in Chicago and 38 percent in New York City.
[Bloomberg] — Holden Walter-Warner