Landing CEO Bill Smith says it’s time to get employees back in the office—here’s what our audience thinks

Bill Smith and City of Birmingham councilmen
Mayor Randall Woodfin joined Bill Smith to celebrate Landing moving to Birmingham. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

When you ask people what they think of the future of work in Birmingham, you’ll get a wide range of answers. We wanted to see what our audience thinks, so we asked our LinkedIn followers for their opinion. Find out what they think, plus hear what Landing CEO Bill Smith has to say about remote work.

Bill Smith wants employees back in the office 👀

landing announcement birmingham
Bill Smith at the celebration of Landing’s new HQ in Birmingham. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

In a Rotary Club of Birmingham meeting on March 16, Bill Smith, the founder and CEO of Landing and Shipt, spoke about Landing and the future of work in Birmingham. In case you’re unfamiliar, Landing offers flexible leases for fully furnished apartments in multiple cities to make it easier for professionals to find housing.

In 2021, Landing announced its plans to move its headquarters to Birmingham. As the successful founder of Shipt and Landing, Smith clearly knows a thing or two about work and what it looks like in Birmingham.

In the Rotary Club meeting, Smith gave a hot take—it’s time to get employees back in the office.

“I believe it’s critical that every company, particularly in Birmingham, particularly in downtown, get their employees back in the office. And it’s not just to benefit the city, which I do think it would benefit significantly. It’s actually for the benefit of the employees in the company.”

Bill Smith, Founder + CEO, Landing

Why does Smith believe working in the office is more beneficial for employees? Based on his experience with Shipt and Landing, he found a disconnect between workers who were primarily remote and their managers.

Plus, the decrease in workers does have an impact on downtown’s revenue. According to the REV Birmingham state of downtown report, there’s a 6.8% vacancy rate for offices in downtown Birmingham. While the vacancy of downtown offices is growing, downtown Birmingham’s residential population and occupancy rates are also growing. Check out the full report here.

Want an example at how downtown businesses and buildings are adjusting to these changes? Take a look at The Frank. Orchestra Partners originally planned to turn the Frank Nelson building into office space, but after the pandemic changed the use of offices, they pivoted and now, The Frank is set to have retail and dining options on the bottom floor and residential units above.

“This is my challenge to Birmingham—if you have folks that you haven’t brought back yet, I think it will be huge for your company, huge for your employees and huge for our city to actually grow.”

Bill Smith, Founder + CEO, Landing

Here’s what YOU had to say about remote work 👇

City Federal
City Federal Building in downtown Birmingham. (Nathan Watson / Bham Now)

We wanted to know what work looks like for our audience now and to get insights on their preferences, so we polled our LinkedIn audience in March 2021. We received 1,100+ total votes—clearly, our LinkedIn audience has strong opinions… and I’m right there with you.

The majority of our LinkedIn audience would prefer a hybrid model, but only one third currently has one.

Remote work poll
Remote work poll

Here’s what the research says about remote work.

Obviously, Birmingham isn’t the only city that’s seeing a change in work and schedules. According to The New York Times, there’s been a major increase in remote work since the beginning of the pandemic. Many major employers in Birmingham officially closed their offices in 2020 and 2021, making remote work the only option.

“Before the pandemic, in 2019, about 4% of employed people in the U.S. worked exclusively from home; by May 2020, that figure rose to 43%, according to Gallup.”

The New York Times

According to Forbes, remote work has led to a rise in productivity but a decrease in innovation. Based on a report by The Economic Intelligence Unit, 39% of businesses found an increase in productivity.

What are your thoughts on the future of work in Birmingham? Tag us @BhamNow to let us know, and be sure to follow us on LinkedIn to contribute to future stories like this.

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Cecilia Wood
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