“It was very bad, we were afraid to go in, basically a ghost town here,” said Jacques Oskanian.
Jacques Osaknian has owned a stationery store at the Embarcadero Center in San Francisco for eight years. He is still waiting for the return of many customers, some of whom are office workers.
“I never thought about closing our business. It’s our bread and butter,” she said.
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Now there are encouraging signs like more people on the streets and more commuters in their cars, heading to work.
Google on Wednesday announced plans to launch a hybrid work model on April 4. Bay Area employees must work three days in the office, the other two from home.
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“There’s still a need for face-to-face interaction and creativity, with the expectation that these companies will come back to San Francisco employees on the street and small businesses will benefit,” said Rodney Fong, president. and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce.
Some workers are in no rush to return. Vic Leung only spends one day in the office.
“I appreciate the connection of people that I miss, it’s a good hybrid for me,” Leung said.
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The Mayor of London Breed is pushing for more employers to bring workers back to the business district.
Mayor Breed’s office released a statement, saying in part:
“The Mayor has worked with organizations like the Chamber of Commerce and spoken to business leaders about announcing a joint commitment to return to office…We will have more details soon…There are many of support for San Francisco and bringing workers back, although we know things will be different in the future to allow flexibility in the workplace.”
Experts say the office’s weekly attendance is around 25%, with a slow increase.
“Our calculations indicate the buildings are ready and safe, now we need the right mindset. It’s time to get back to the city,” said John Bryant of the Building Owners and Managers Association of San Francisco.
SF Travel reports a 20% increase in Moscone Center bookings since December, with the busiest month expected to be June.
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With more encouraging signs on the way back to normal, Jacques is optimistic.
“I see movement, things are getting better and better,” he said.
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