Sep 12, 2023 - News

Comcast's in-office mandate could boost Center City

Photo: Charles Mostoller/Bloomberg via Getty

Comcast's new return-to-office mandate will bring thousands of its employees back to Center City for at least four days a week, starting today.

Why it matters: The technology giant is Philly's largest private downtown employer, and the policy could give a jolt to the area's pandemic recovery.

Driving the news: The mandate will affect approximately 8,000 employees who work in the pair of office towers that serve as Comcast's headquarters.

  • The policy, which Comcast CEO Dave Watson revealed in a June memo, cuts employees' ability to work remotely from two days to one, which had been in place over the past year.
  • The mandate is for all U.S.-based Comcast employees.

The big picture: The push to get employees back into the office has grown more aggressive this year, reports Axios' Emily Peck.

  • Yes, but: Experts say strict return-to-work mandates could backfire and lead to an exodus of employees, writes Axios' Christine Clarridge.

Between the lines: The move by major Center City employers, including Comcast, last year to bring back workers partially to the office helped fuel an increase in downtown foot traffic.

  • More workers traveling to Center City could help bolster businesses and get more people riding SEPTA.

By the numbers: Only 57% of office workers have returned to their desks compared to pre-pandemic levels within Philly's main office building area as of August, Center City District president Paul Levy tells Axios.

Meanwhile, SEPTA's Regional Rail and metro ridership was barely more than half its pre-pandemic levels.

What they're saying: Comcast has no plans to move to a five-day-a-week in-office policy, spokesperson John Demming tells Axios.

Levy says Comcast's new policy could spur other employers to follow suit, which could in turn increase downtown employment, especially at restaurants.

  • "It has hugely positive implications both visually … and for so many other industries that depend on the presence of office workers," he said. "So it is a big deal."
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