As more employers buckle down on return-to-work policies, offices are filling up again.
- Workers are returning to the office at the highest rates since March 2020 with just under 50% of workers in the physical office from September 8 to September 14, according to data from Kastle Systems.
- Kastle Systems monitored 10 metro areas, finding that during the middle of the week, office attendance was closer to 55%.
- In-person work attendance picked up after Labor Day. Earlier this week on Wednesday, the Long Island Rail Road had more than 200,000 riders—the first time since March 2020. Other commuter lines also reached peak ridership.
- More workers showed up at the office in Houston, Texas, as well. For the last five months, attendance has hung stubbornly around 50%. Now that number has jumped to 63%.
Why it’s news
More employers are encouraging their workers to return to in-person working. Some are finding a compromise and only requiring their employees to work in the physical office two or three days a week.
Return to office plans had been thwarted before by the Delta variant and Omicron, but now as infection levels fall, more offices are emphasizing return to work strategies.
Some offices had hesitated to force employees back to the office, fearing that the workers would rather change jobs than come back to the office, Peter Grant reports in The New York Times.
But now that the economy and labor market is a little more uncertain, employers seem to be growing bolder in pushing forward with their plans.
The rate of return to offices has varied across the U.S. New York, for example, has a return rate of 46.6%, but San Francisco is only at 40.7%.
Even with more workers returning to the office, small businesses that relied on business from commuters are still suffering. Customer traffic is increasing, but not nearly to the levels business-owners saw pre-pandemic.
Small business owners aren’t the only ones feeling the effects of remote work. Office building owners are beginning to worry as it seems likely that demand for office space will stay lower than pre-pandemic needs.
Office vacancy is at some of the highest levels since the pandemic at 12.4%. Companies are holding out on signing long term leases as they reevaluate their needs with hybrid work schedules.