Doublewide cubicle? Citigroup eyes suburban offices so workers can spread out

The banking giant’s employees have been working from home since March

Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat (Credit: Getty; iStock)
Citigroup CEO Michael Corbat (Credit: Getty; iStock)

Some industry pros have speculated that the coronavirus pandemic would push companies out of dense cities and into the suburbs. Now, some big companies are making the move.

390 Greenwich Street (Credit: Beyond My Ken via Wikipedia)

Citigroup headquarters at 390 Greenwich Street (Credit: Beyond My Ken via Wikipedia)

Citigroup, which in recent years relocated its headquarters to Tribeca, is exploring options for short-term leases for suburban offices outside New York City, according to Bloomberg. The banking giant is considering furnished spaces ready to be occupied in Long Island, Westchester County and New Jersey.

The company’s employees have been working from home since March and Citigroup hasn’t set a date for them to return to offices.

Though the move likely won’t be permanent, it is a sign that demand could jump for suburban offices — at least in the short term. Opening temporary offices would let them put their employees back to work, but spread them out to reduce the risk of spreading coronavirus.

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Office landlords including RXR Realty and Rubenstein Partners are fielding calls from financial institutions for those properties. Rubenstein Principal Brandon Huffman said commuting is a major concern.

“There’s an overwhelming number of employees that need mass transit to access the urban environment,” he said. “Nobody knows how that’s going to work in a social-distancing world.”

Landlords are also redesigning their urban spaces to allow employees to maintain social-distancing measures. Co-working offices are expected to get a significant overhaul.

JPMorgan Chase expects to keep its offices at just 50 percent capacity for the foreseeable future, while Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman has said he sees a future with “much less real estate.” [Bloomberg] — Dennis Lynch