For the first time since the pandemic, U.S. office occupancy levels have reached 50%.
- More than half of U.S. workers went in person to the office last week for the first time since the pandemic.
- Kastle Systems, a key-card security company that has been monitoring occupancy levels, reported that 10 metro areas saw a 0.9% increase in occupancy.
- All cities that Kastle Systems tracks had at least a 40% occupancy level—another post-pandemic record.
- Most of the cities’ occupancy levels stayed the same or increased. New York occupancy reached 47.5% for the week ending on January 25.
- Austin, Texas, had the highest occupancy rate of 68%. San Jose, California, had the lowest at 41%.
Why it’s news
As more employers push workers to return to the office, reaching the 50% occupancy threshold is a significant breakthrough. Return-to-office expectations have been delayed as companies have struggled to convince employees to return for in-person work.
Many companies still allow employees to work using a hybrid model that only requires a few days in the office each week.
Backing up a bit
Both JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon and Citadel head Ken Griffin have made emphatic statements about the power of an in-office work culture. During the World Economic Forum held in Davos, Switzerland, JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon said that remote work just “doesn’t work” for certain industries.
Hedge fund firm Citadel recently reported a record-breaking profit for its clients during 2021. During an interview with Fortune, CEO Ken Griffin attributed the firm’s massive success, in part, to all of his employees working in the office full time.
Industry leaders have more commonly expressed displeasure with remote work as businesses announce more layoffs, and economic uncertainty makes workers more willing to return to the office for fear of losing their jobs.
However, some studies show that workers use the extra time to be more productive at work. Time saved on a commute is one of the arguments used in support of remote work—here’s how employees are using that extra time.
On average, remote workers have around an extra 72 minutes in their day than those who still commute to work. With that extra time, around 40% is dedicated to completing additional work on a primary job or working a second job.
Some employers are still concerned that remote work will lead to less worker productivity, but so far, workers are using that extra time to catch up on work projects that would otherwise fall behind. Around 34% of workers dedicate their extra time to leisure, including reading, watching TV, and exercising. Another 11% of workers use their gained time for caregiving.