Uber opens new San Francisco Mission Bay headquarters
SAN FRANCISCO - Not only did a major San Francisco tech company start bringing people back into the office during a pandemic, they’re bringing them back into a brand new office complex.
For Uber, it's a very big step. For the economy, it's a baby step with many more needed.
On Monday morning, ride-hailing giant Uber, opened its new one-million square foot world headquarters in San Francisco's Mission Bay right next to the Chase Center. At the moment, it's open to employee volunteers only, because Uber previously told all employees that they can work remotely until mid-September.
COVID protocols will be maintained.
"We are beginning to round the, you know, come around the corner a little bit and the proverbial light at the end of the tunnel is really, in fact more and more in sight," said Stephen Baioter, Executive Director of the East Bay Economic Development Alliance.
The four-building campus, built for 5,000 people, will initially allow no more than 20% of employees in, though it may take time to get to even that level with the remainder of employees still working remotely.
"Remote work isn't really even a wildcard anymore. I do think remote work is here to stay to a certain extent for many office workers," said Jeff Bellasario of the Bay Area Council Economic Institute.
Many employers will have to support both work concepts.
"What are the preferences of the workers? Do they want to come in two or three times a week? Not at all or five times per week?" said Mr. Bellasario. With office vacancy rates in San Francisco at 20%, many large employers are already rethinking their footprints and looking for co-tenants to share their space.
"I think you're gonna see more and more folks subleasing," said Mr. Baiter.
But, say the experts, office space is not going away, by a long shot.
"There is something about that face-to-face interaction, particularly if you're making a product or you're providing a service. That ability to innovate with co-workers; it can be done on Zoom, but it's not quite what it is face-to-face," said Bellasario. "And, the opportunity to really collaborate and network and have iterative processes really necessitate some sort of in-person activity," said Baiter.
Whatever the future holds for the workspace, it will take time because it's not quite time to sing 'Happy Days Are Here Again.'
"We're looking into next year when you talk about unemployment rates coming back down to where they were before," said Bellasario.
Many employers and property owners are very aware of the potential for outbreaks unless their properties are and remain safe from all manner of illness.