The House of Representatives passed legislation this week requiring all federal agencies to revert to pre-pandemic telework office arrangements and allow employees 30 days to return to their offices. (GovExec, Feb. 1 and The Hill, Feb. 2)
SHOW UP Act
- House Oversight Committee Chairman James Comer (R-KY)—the lead sponsor of the Stopping Home Office Work’s Unproductive Problems (SHOW UP) Act—said it is urgent that federal employees get back to their offices. (Video of Comer’s House floor statement and news release, Feb. 1).
- Rep. Comer also noted that the cost of federal leases in Washington, D.C. is also motivating return-to-office calls for government employees. “If we’re not going to use those buildings for federal workers, then the federal government may look at doing something different with those buildings.” (Federal News Network, Jan. 30 and Roundtable Weekly, Jan. 6)
- CoStar’s reporting on the bill’s passage noted The Real Estate Roundtable’s December letter to President Biden, which cited the negative impact of underutilized office space on local communities. (CoStar, Feb. 2 and Roundtable letter, Dec. 12)
- The Roundtable comments also encouraged President Biden to support legislation that could help facilitate “the increased conversion of underutilized office and other commercial real estate to much-needed housing.” (Roundtable Weekly, Dec. 16)
- Meanwhile, New York City Mayor Eric Adams plans to encourage the conversion of aging office buildings to apartments by changing zoning restrictions that limit adaptive uses of CRE in a specific swath of Manhattan. (GlobeSt, Jan. 30)
- Mayor Adams’ efforts to convert outdated office space to other potential uses, especially housing, are based on a recent task force report, the New York City Office Adaptive Reuse Study.
- The Democrat-controlled Senate is unlikely to take action on the House-approved SHOW UP Act. (PoliticoPro, Feb. 1)
- Meanwhile, the White House announced this week that COVID-19 emergency declarations will end on May 11. It is unclear how the federal government’s pandemic response shift will impact remote work arrangements for government and private sector employees. (Forbes, Jan. 31 and White House Statement of Administrative Policy, Jan. 30)
The Roundtable will continue to focus on return-to-office policies as part of its 2023 policy agenda as remote work continues to take an economic toll on cities and tax bases throughout the nation.
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