February 19, 2021
The Honorable Gretchen Whitmer State of Michigan
P.O. Box 30013
Lansing, MI 48909
Re: Returning to the Office
Dear Governor Whitmer:
As COVID-19 cases and positivity rates trend in the right direction, and as vaccines reach more Michiganders every day, we write in hopes that employees will soon be able to return to the office while following guidelines and protocols to keep them safe.
Offices are some of the most controlled, low-risk environments in our state . Masks can be worn whenever employees are not in a private space. Cleaning methods, social distancing and daily health checks can be implemented in an employer-monitored setting and our employers are prepared.
From Grand Rapids to Lansing and Detroit, empty office buildings have a damaging impact not only on productivity, innovation, collaboration and mental health, but also has put an incredible strain on our communities. As an example, the City of Grand Rapids is projecting a $10 to $20 million budget shortfall due in large part to non-residents working from home. The effects of employees staying home has caused once-vibrant downtowns and urban areas to lose businesses and jobs.
Michigan is also home to the world’s leading office furniture companies. Their research, innovation and design capabilities position us to define what returning to the office looks like in this new reality. We just need the opportunity to put this know-how into action for the good of our state.
We ask for action to allow employees to safely return to the office. We believe this is a key next step in Michigan’s recovery and are confident Michigan businesses can follow the proper health requirements to keep their employees and communities safe.
Please contact any of us with questions or to schedule a time to discuss this matter further. Thank you for your consideration.
Rick Baker, President & CEO Grand Rapids Chamber
Sandy Baruah, President & CEO, Detroit Regional Chamber
Brian Calley, President Small Business Association of Michigan
Richard Studley, President, Michigan Chamber of Commerce
John Walsh, President & CEO, Michigan Manufacturers Association
Tim Daman, President & CEO, Lansing Regional Chamber of Commerce