Philly Mayor orders city employees back to the office 

Monday-to-Friday schedule could be boost for office owners, retailers

Philly City Workers Face Five-Day Office Mandate
Mayor Cherelle Parker (Getty)

For the office market to recover from the past few years, landlords will need tons of help, particularly from the government. In Philadelphia, office owners are about to receive just that.

Philadelphia Mayor Cherelle Parker announced Monday that all city employees would be required to return to working on-site five days a week, the Inquirer reported. The shift for the city’s employees is scheduled to begin in two months, on July 15.

The move comes after District of Columbia’s Muriel Bowser and New York’s Eric Adams have clashed with labor groups over their calls for city employees to return to the office for most, if not all, days of the week. Adams last year softened his stance to allow hybrid work two days a week, while Bowser earlier this year ordered municipal workers back four days a week.

Former mayor Jim Kenney previously brought city employees back to the office for a minimum of two days a week, starting after vaccines became available in 2021. But individual departments were left to enforce the policy, meaning it was easy for many to talk their way out of regular office attendance.

As Parker calls city workers back to the office, the administration is increasing paid parental leave will be increased and making Black Friday an official holiday.

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At least one municipal union, AFSCME’s District Council 47, is pushing back against the mandate, arguing it could lead to a departure of municipal city workers at a time when there’s already a shortage.

While many employees will likely grumble about being forced back to the office, landlords likely won’t be among that crowd. Occupancy and attendance play big roles in how office buildings are valued, so the return of the city’s 25,000 employees to workplaces could prove to be a big deal.

It will also likely be to the benefit of retailers, as people in cubicles lead to people frequenting businesses in business districts, especially those catering to the lunch crowd. Office-reliant neighborhoods such as Center City haven’t seen foot traffic recover to pre-pandemic levels, so this may provide the best opportunity yet.

Kastle Systems’ Back-to-Work Barometer, an oft-cited indicator of office occupancy, found the average occupancy of Philadelphia offices was 41.1 percent for the week of May 8, ranking second-to-bottom among the 10 markets the tracker monitors through the collection of card swipes.

Holden Walter-Warner

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