The calculation of the return to the office is not over yet.
Anyone would be forgiven for believing that the week after Thanksgiving will be a slow time at work as most employees are trying to get things done in an even slower time. New Year. So at first glance, it’s surprising to see office occupancy at 49% for the week of December 5, according to Kastle Systems. That was one of the highest levels since the pandemic sent the majority of Americans home in March 2020.
And experts say that number is expected to continue to grow—albeit slowly—as we enter the year 2023.
Mark Ein, President of Kastle Systems said: “It went well and started. “[Office occupancy] has been steadily increasing since the beginning . We’ve been really talking about and anticipating this increase for a while.”
Kastle Systems has become something of a barometer for those who are gaining ground in the tug-of-war between employees and executives about going back to the office. In early 2022, the security firm that tracks patterns in employees’ office keycard entries predicted that office occupancy rates would increase steadily year over year. And it pretty much went that way.
After dropping to a low of 15% in April 2020, office occupancy rates began to steadily increase in 2021 until the US was hit by the Omicron wave. The first week of January 2022, the rate reached 28%. Despite a lot of outcry from employees and media coverage, things have mostly been on track since then.
Summer sees rates rise to the 43-44% range, where they fluctuate until fall, reaching a high of 47% in September.
Ein told Asset he believes those rates will continue to rise consistently. More than anything, the 49% occupancy rate seems to be an exception to it right after Thanksgiving, more than anything, being an example of where the back-to-office debate is going to go like. how in the new year.
In fact, when you break it down by day, for the entire first week of December, occupancy was close to 57% on Tuesday—the most popular day to go to the office—56% on Wednesday and 51 % on Thursday. Mondays and Fridays are understandably less popular, with fill rates varying by more than 23% between the highest and lowest percentage days.
One reason office occupancy is up could be that many workers have projects that are due to be completed before the end of the year and set to do so by 2023. Ein argues that work is easy to do. easier in the office.
“It was actually quite a stressful and important time,” he said.
However, Ein expects office occupancy to level off at around 60%.
“The step we are on now is people are coming back [to the office]but they just focus that time on different days,” Ein said.
That will continue: More people will come into the office Tuesday through Thursday, less on Monday and Friday, he said, which is likely to keep the average occupancy rate at or around 60%.
That is of course assuming nothing significantly affects the RTO or the labor market. If we haven’t learned anything in the past three years, it’s that we should never make assumptions.
“The same pressures that have led to an increase in office occupancy will persist into 2023… but there will be a natural ceiling on it,” Ein said. “We will never really get to 100%.”
On the other hand, he also doesn’t think we’ll see a significant drop in office occupancy, unless another, highly transmissible variant of COVID-19 emerges. Beyond that, he says, business leaders consider all the other aspects of life where people gather—sports events, conferences, movie theaters, etc.—and all of them virtually. was back to normal. Of course, the fact that the office has fallen behind that trend could also signal the fact that the way we work has simply changed forever.
However, the steady flow of time clearly leads back to the office—about 60% of the time.
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