New return to work survey sparks concerns about future of downtown areas

Will the workplace ever look the same? There’s a new survey out that suggests it might not.

Download the FOX 5 DC News App for Local Breaking News and Weather

As FOX 5's Tom Fitzgerald found out, it seems a lot of people who work from home say they have no plans to go back to the office anytime soon. 

A new survey from The Pew Research Center shows surprisingly that a core group of American workers aren't returning to the office.

RELATED: More than half of employees prefer mix of in-person, remote working, survey says

The survey cites research that says on a national level, people are working remotely about 39% of the time as of April. That’s compared to around after 62% in mid-2020 at the height of pandemic. Locally, D.C. residents said they worked from home 42% of the time, while in Maryland and Virginia workers said they stayed at home about 40% of the time. 

FOX 5 spoke with several DMV residents who said they are happy with having the flexibility to work from home, and believe that the trend will continue. 

Worries about when workers will return to work is raising concerns about how downtown business areas will survive in the future. Analysts tell FOX 5 that downtown areas rely on a ripple effect of workers supporting small businesses, like lunch spot and service stores, but with employees not returning to work, those businesses will struggle.

Assistant White House Press Secretary Emike Simons tells FOX 5 – in addition to inflation - it’s a trend the Biden Administration is watching very closely. 

"The pandemic has changed our lives in innumerable ways, there’s no doubt about it. But what we’re going to do is keep doing our best to keep supporting workers where they are, where they want to be and making sure that they have wages that bring home the bacon," said Simons. "I think it is a change, but I think it’s a change where people are still spending that money elsewhere people are going to the grocery store; they’re making more omelets at home instead of going to the local Starbucks."


Research shows that moving forward, cities are going to have to respond to the new work trend becoming permanent. That would mean a possible shift in focus from building new transit systems to improving home workspaces, through changes like boosting internet accessibility and turning empty offices into condos and apartment buildings.