Roughly 17.3 percent of office space in Manhattan is available for lease, the most in at least three decades. Asking rents have dropped to just over $74 a square foot, from nearly $82 at the beginning of 2020, according to the real estate services company Newmark. Elsewhere, asking rents are largely flat from a year ago, including in Boston and Houston, but have climbed slightly in Chicago.

The Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo, whose United States headquarters are in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, recently relocated to another building nearby, an open layout with tables designed for 130 people who will come into the office only a few days a week. Many of its office workers will keep working remotely, while some employees, like those in marketing, will occasionally meet in SoHo.

“As a leader, it has been challenging because meeting people face-to-face is so important,” said Daisuke Tsukagoshi, the chief executive of Uniqlo USA. “However, since we are a Japanese company with global reach, the need for remote collaboration among many centers has always been part of our culture.”

The stock prices of the big landlords, which are often structured as real estate investment trusts that pass almost all of their profit to investors, trade well below their previous highs, even as the wider stock market and some companies in other industries like airlines and hotels that were hit hard by the pandemic have hit new highs. Shares of Boston Properties, one of the largest office landlords, are down 29 percent from the prepandemic high. SL Green, a major New York landlord, is 26 percent lower.

Fitch Ratings estimated that office landlords’ profits would fall 15 percent if companies allowed workers to be at home just one and a half days a week on average. Three days at home could slash income by 30 percent.

Real estate executives claim not to be worried. They said that working from home will fade once most people are vaccinated. Their reasons to think this? They say many corporate executives have told them that it is hard to effectively collaborate or train young workers when people are not together.



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