Big tech eyes New York City office spaces while startups look for solace


Mario Valencia | Flickr

Israel Catalan

The increase of empty offices in New York City due to safety concerns from the COVID-19 pandemic has led to big tech companies increasing their footing in the city.

Amazon purchased an 11 story Lord & Taylor building for $1 billion in March. After the purchase, Amazon claimed that 2,000 people would be employed there.

Additionally, the company has increased its office space and bought warehouses in Staten Island, Queens and the Bronx. In Brooklyn, a waterfront workspace was leased for their team working on Amazon Music.

Ardine Williams, the vice president at Amazon for workforce development, claims that this step was taken to attract “diverse professionals from around the world.” Williams’ comment is a characteristic of the idea that big companies like Google and Amazon can revitalize the empty offices in NYC.

In total, 2,600 employees were hired by Amazon, Apple, Google and Facebook in New York City this year.

Google and Facebook have adapted their policies to allow staff to continue working remotely until July 2021, but the space allocated for employee offices has vastly increased. Apple, for the first time since 2011, expanded near Madison Square Garden.

While big tech companies increase ownership of office space in the city, smaller tech startups are negotiating for less expensive leases. Real estate agents like Two Trees Management have decreased their typical leasing terms from three years down to one year or six months for startups.

Prior to the pandemic, Paperspace, a cloud-computing startup, had half of its staff working remotely and has now almost made a full transition due to COVID-19.They were able to successfully receive a 70% discount on their monthly rent, a price drop that will help the startup stay in business.

The drawback to less office space is the reduced amount of communication.

Paperspace’s chief operating officer Daniel Kobran said he misses the brainstorming he had with co-workers as well as the events held in their office space in the Brooklyn area.

MikMak, an e-commerce startup, stated that they will likely not rent office space until 2022 or the arrival of a vaccine. Currently, the space being used by the startup functions as a space for team meetings or special presentations. Companies like BlackRock Inc. have stated that they might not see the return of a full staff in the near future.

In New York City, the hiring rates are expected to continue to increase alongside office space. Until the arrival of a vaccine or improved safety procedures, the state of office space is still in question.