Opinion

Empty Offices, Empty Storefronts

More from our inbox:

  • Aid for Ukraine
  • A Global Climate Emergency
  • Ashes and Porn Stashes
The 12th floor of 520 Eighth Avenue in Manhattan.
Credit…Emily Badger/The New York Times

To the Editor:

“All That Empty Office Space Belongs to Someone” (Sunday Business, Sept. 3) describes what in my view is a transitional period. Any company whose business model supports remote work will eventually be fully remote. This saves on office space as well as on commuting time and costs, and allows for recruiting talent from all over the world.

As a thought experiment, if you compare two identical companies, one remote and the other fully or partly in person, the latter cannot compete. Similarly, creating work spaces for employees who choose to live in super-expensive, crowded cities such as Tokyo and cannot work at home (as described in the article) leads to a cost disadvantage relative to fully remote work.

The hybrid model highlighted in the article is particularly problematic. Either a company rents offices that are only partly used, or it cuts office space. With rotating office space, people come in on different days, they do not meet and interact, and they may be less productive in shifting work spaces.

Companies are better off working remotely but offering retreats and renting occasional spaces for in-person meetings.

S. Abraham Ravid
New York
The writer is a professor of finance at the Sy Syms School of Business, Yeshiva University.

To the Editor:

Re “Ground Floors Offer Window Into Troubles of City Centers” (front page, Sept. 5):

I was pleased to read that one solution to the problem would be for empty storefronts to become artist studio spaces. Here in Savannah, ARTS Southeast is renting out 26 below-retail spaces, as most artists simply can’t afford to work and create in our ever-more-expensive housing market. Similar organizations could take over the leases of empty ground-floor spaces in Washington, D.C., and San Francisco and subdivide the space.

How wonderful to walk by windows and see artists creating their work at all hours of the day and night! How wonderful to live in a city where artists are valued and can thrive and not struggle!

Beth Logan
Savannah, Ga.
The writer is an artist.

To the Editor:

Impressively, “Ground Floors Offer Window Into Troubles of City Centers” laments the plight of downtown retail at great length without ever using the words “crime” or “shoplifting.”

No retailer can stay in business if theft is effectively decriminalized by woke officials. Alternative ground-floor uses, such as the health clinics that are mentioned, are less alluring to pedestrians and will also fail if potential office tenants work remotely because of fear of crime.

Jay Weiser
New York

Aid for Ukraine

The Motherland Monument in Kyiv, Ukraine.Credit…Laetitia Vancon for The New York Times

To the Editor:

Re “Corruption Remains an Existential Threat to Ukraine,” by Farah Stockman (Opinion, Sept. 13):

As a Ukrainian business leader, I welcomed Secretary of State Antony Blinken’s recent announcement of more aid for Ukraine, which included $203 million to support “transparency and accountability of institutions.”

But more funding alone will not improve the challenges facing our country as it looks to rebuild for the future.

As the U.S. Congress reviews — and we hope supports — President Biden’s recent request for ongoing financial support of our nation’s war effort against Russia, Washington should continue to demand tangible improvements in governance in Ukraine.

Confidence in Ukraine’s anti-corruption and transparency initiatives is essential to draw investors for the huge rebuilding task ahead.

The government of Ukraine has shown that it needs help to do this, and the international community has the opportunity to insist on good governance before funds are available for investment in Ukraine. Ukraine will fail if it doesn’t change, and it can’t change without help from the international community.

Julia Kiryanova
Kyiv, Ukraine
The writer is C.E.O. of Smart Holding, one of the largest companies in Ukraine.

A Global Climate Emergency

Protesters at the March to End Fossil Fuels in Manhattan on Sunday.Credit…Sarah Blesener for The New York Times

To the Editor:

In Hawaii the Kilauea volcano is active again, and in Morocco an earthquake has killed about 3,000 people. Then there are the flooding and dam failures in Libya that appear to have killed about 4,000. There is also the catastrophic flooding that has taken place in Greece, China, Pakistan, Britain and Vermont this year and last.

Wildfires have grown into mega-fires, and for the first time in recorded history almost half the ocean (which is two-thirds of the planet) is experiencing simultaneous marine heat waves.

It seems that for every purely “natural” disaster we are now seeing multiple extreme weather disasters linked to the burning of fossil fuels and other greenhouse gas emissions. It’s past time to declare a global climate emergency and take on the fossil fuel cartels with their unnatural influence on climate policy.

David Helvarg
Richmond, Calif.
The writer is executive director of Blue Frontier, an ocean policy group, and co-host of the “Rising Tide: The Ocean Podcast.”

Ashes and Porn Stashes

People think movers “are like flies on the wall,” said one owner of a moving company, “so they don’t hesitate to have very open conversations with each other in front of you.”Credit…Anna Watts for The New York Times

To the Editor:

I enjoyed reading “Movers See All, and Now They Have Their Say” (Thursday Styles, Sept. 7).

We home organizers see it all, too. I’ve been privy to where my clients keep their loved ones’ ashes, as well as where they keep their porn. And of course when we work in clients’ homes we take an unspoken pledge of confidentiality!

Dana S. Lehrman
New York
The writer is the founder of Rooms for Improvement: Home Organizing for Town & Country.

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