As the severity of COVID-19 fades, American life has begun to return to normal. Americans are going to restaurants, movies, concerts, and sporting events. They’re shopping and vacationing.
But they aren’t going back to offices.
To better understand downtown workers’ attitudes toward work and the city center, the Greater Des Moines Partnership commissioned a survey of 5,200 people from 18 businesses in the area. The partnership has produced a preliminary report with some intriguing data:
- Hybrid work is here to stay: The study asked, where did you work before the pandemic? Where do you work now? And where do you feel you’ll be most effective working in the future? The data shows that knowledge workers’ pre-pandemic location was 85 percent office/15 percent home. It’s now 40 percent office/60 percent home, and they think it should remain that way in the future.
- Third spaces have value: The study asked, what are the most important characteristics of downtown? The partnership found that cultural events, socializing, and outdoor recreation are the top three drivers of downtown use.
- There’s room for growth: The study asked, if positive changes were made to the things of importance to respondents, would that change how often they utilize downtown in the future? The partnership sought to understand if workers were at a saturation point with their use of downtown. They found that 86 percent of respondents would use downtown more with continued improvements.
In addition to the survey data, Tiffany Tauscheck, chief operations officer for the partnership, says that the partnership is seeing a shift in downtown usage patterns with more people coming downtown later in the day and on weekends rather than during the traditional 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. workday.
More on the return to working downtown plus articles on shipping containers as business incubators and pursuing ARPA cash appear in the April issue of Downtown Idea Exchange. Click to learn more about Downtown Idea Exchange and other resources for revitalizing downtowns and commercial corridors.