New York City had a problem before Covid-19 arrived: 2,600 people per week were deciding they had had enough and relocating away from the Big Apple. Then offices were forced to empty out when the pandemic arrived.
Companies have long seen New York City as a traditional bastion of high commerce and a place to eventually have a presence and be recognized as one of the top institutions in their industry. This was especially true in finance. However, today — thanks to a major pandemic-driven paradigm shift — something odd is happening. After two centuries of pursuing a place in Manhattan, some of the biggest company names in the country are now abandoning the big cities, not just to set up satellite offices but also to leave the urban-center locations altogether.
The big city abandonment is most visible in companies like JP Morgan Chase. While there has always been a race to get as close as possible to Wall Street and the Manhattan banking center, companies like JP Morgan Chase were traditionally located where the financial action was. However, even before the shift out of the office and into remote work locations in 2020, the big banking giant was redesigning its work environment. And JP Morgan Chase is putting its money behind its plan by committing to relocate 25,000 employees to Texas.
JP Morgan is not alone. As of December 2020, Unacast (via Reuters) found that a net 70,000 people had left New York City over the course of a year, taking with them some $34 billion in income they used to spend in town. While the big-swinging executives may still stay close to their clients in the cities, other parts of companies are looking at the rest of the U.S. as fair game. This presents losses, but it also creates new opportunities.
Between the attraction of low-cost real estate and high-speed internet, working from anywhere in 2021 is doable for practically any connected company. As the CEO of a company that offers technology for creating online advisor marketplaces, I’ve found that companies are also thinking about how to generate new revenue streams. Companies often have plenty of experts in their employee stable that provide ready skill sets for providing hourly advice online to all types of customers, including those beyond their traditional market. Many new monetizing channels are easy to implement with staff working remotely. Companies are expanding their revenue streams with a diverse range of services. Popular examples include online education offerings like home cooking classes, remote telemedicine appointments, coaching consultations and much more. In short, remote working is forcing companies to rethink what they can offer far beyond their base product.
Now is the time for business leaders to reflect on their current setup and determine how they can stay successful and get in front of the competition as remote companies. Getting creative to come up with fresh ideas about remote offerings allows businesses to diversify their revenue streams and connect with their audience and consumers in new ways. While there’s always the potential for challenges with staff working remotely and the lack of face-to-face interaction, this is an opportunity to overcome and preserve. Business leaders can invite their teams to embrace a new way of working that requires more creativity and collaboration than ever before.
It all starts with identifying the core business areas that could benefit from a new remote product or service offering. Where is the biggest or most loyal audience, and what’s the consumer segment that has been asking for something different? Where hasn’t the business gone before, and what opportunities lay ahead in that area? These questions can help business leaders better understand their customer base and make decisions about remote models for the future.
What the big shift and trading chairs mean for the future of New York City remains to be seen, but I believe the industry change for its tenants could represent a huge, fundamental shift for the East Coast city. It could change the culture of New York City as well — in much the same way as Silicon Valley reshaped a sleepy valley south of San Francisco decades earlier. In the meantime, companies should get creative about leveraging their remote workforces, including finding new ways to make more out of the talent they have already.
This article first appeared/was released on Forbes