Our Chicago: Returning to the office, the future of the workplace

CHICAGO (WLS) -- After more than a year of shutdowns and COVID-19 restrictions, Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot announced that she expects the city to be fully reopened by July 4th.

The COVID-19 pandemic changed the way people work and what people value as employees, including the flexibility to work from home.

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As more people get vaccinated and businesses come back, many are eager to get back to the offices, said Kiana DiStasi, Chicago Loop Alliance.



The Loop's recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic depends on workers coming back downtown to offices.

"Most are definitely eager, both employers and employees," said Kiana DiStasi, marketing director with the Chicago Loop Alliance.

While people are eager to get back to the offices, people are concerned about safety from the COVID-19 virus, according to DiStasi. However, as more people continue to get vaccinated, that concern is reducing, DiStasi added.

DiStasi also said Sundays on State will be an ongoing summer event on Chicago's State Street. It will begin starting July 11. Traffic will be closed and the location will be transformed into an open street concept. Applications are currently being accepted.

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While people return to the workplace, many are still looking to have the option to work from home, said Rebecca Ryan, economist and futurist.



An estimated 75 million Americans worked from home over the past year, and it seems the option of working remotely is now a top priority for many of those people.

Remote work will be beneficial to employers and employees by providing both the options, said Rebecca Ryan, economist and futurist.
"It's actually a win-win because having a remote pool of workers is a win for employers because it allows them to have more selection, and for the employee who wants or needs that kind of flexibility, it also opens them up to a lot of jobs that they might have otherwise considered," Ryan said.

A hybrid arrangement could be where the future is headed toward.

Having the option makes sense for Ryan.

"When I think about the kinds of people who have been really, deeply impacted I think about women. You know, we've had more women leave the workforce than ever before. The Fed says we may have stepped back a decade in economic output as a result," Ryan said. "And at least for women, being able to work remotely was a way for them to be able to manage all of their home and personal responsibilities while also keeping a foot at work. So, for them having remote or hybrid work arrangement, it's going to be one of the ways that we're going to be able to bring women back into the workforce in the future."

For more about Sundays on State, visit https://loopchicago.com/events/sundays-on-state/.
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