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Roundtable Urges President Biden to Weigh Negative Impacts of Remote Work on Cities, Broader Economy

  • December 15, 2022
RER Letter to Biden on Remote Work

The Roundtable wrote to President Joe Biden on Dec. 12 about the ongoing, harmful economic impacts of widespread remote work on cities, local tax bases, and small businesses—and how work-from-home policies by federal agencies threaten to magnify these negative economic and social consequences. (Roundtable letter | GlobeSt and CoStar, Dec. 15) 

Roundtable Requests 

  • The letter from Real Estate Roundtable Chair John Fish and President & CEO Jeff DeBoer urges President Biden “to direct federal agencies to enhance their consideration of the impact of agency employee remote working on communities, surrounding small employers, transit systems, local tax bases and other important considerations.”

  • The federal government maintains facilities in 2,200 communities, influencing local leasing activities, property values, and surrounding small businesses. Cities may continue to struggle if federal agencies encourage their employees to work-from-home on a permanent basis. Unfortunately, some federal officials view agency remote work simply as a recruiting tool or cost-saving measure. [Office of Personnel Management testimony, Future of Federal Work Part II, before House Committee on Oversight and Reform (July 21, 2022), and OPM’s Future of Work FAQ]

  • The Roundtable letter notes that federal agencies’ actions to emphasize the benefits of permanent remote work differ from the current direction of private sector employers, who are increasingly recognizing the need to bring employees back to the workplace.

  • The Roundtable comments also encourage President Biden to support legislation that could help facilitate “the increased conversion of underutilized office and other commercial real estate to much-needed housing.” The letter states that incentives for conversion projects could be modeled on the rehabilitation tax credit as a cost-effective means to increase the housing supply, create jobs, and boost the local tax base. 

Economic Impact of Remote Work 

Chicago cityscape sky view

Roundtable Members in the News 

  • Roundtable Chair John Fish (Chairman and CEO, SUFFOLK) spoke with Bloomberg Intelligence on Dec. 9 about the consequences of rising interest rates, the impact of remote work, labor force participation, and the general economic outlook. (Chair Fish interview begins at 26:05)

  • Former Roundtable Chair Bill Rudin (Co-Chairman & CEO, Rudin Management Company, Inc.) discussed real estate challenges and the potential for office-to-residential conversions in New York City on Dec. 14 during an interview with CNBC’s Squawk on the Street.

  • Roundtable Board Member Kathleen McCarthy (Global Co-Head of Blackstone Real Estate) was interviewed on Dec. 9 by Bloomberg Radio on a wide range of real estate investment issues, asset types, and her experience in the industry. 

Commercial real estate trends and potential policy responses will be discussed during The Roundtable’s Jan. 24-25 State of the Industry Meeting in Washington, DC.

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