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NextGen Magazine


Half-Full Offices May Be the New Normal

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Feb 6, 2023

Corporate offices just nudged above half of their capacity, but that may be the limit, The Washington Post reported.

As office occupancy reached that milestone last week, according to office swipe tracker Kastle Systems, it may level off now due to the changes in the workforce caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Though many big-name companies, such as General Motors, Starbucks and Disney, are implementing mandatory return to the office policies, even if not for all five days, employees are resisting, the Post reported.

“I think we must be headed toward some new equilibrium,” Ben Zweig, CEO of Revelio Labs, a workforce intelligence company, told the Post. “Companies are becoming a lot more explicit about whether they’re remote first or hybrid or in-person, and employees can sort of select into those companies.”

Those companies that recognize the hybrid model may be here to stay are seeing its advantages.

“By no longer being limited to the boundaries of our office locations, we can broaden our hiring capabilities to reach more underrepresented talent and provide a level playing field for equitable participation of talent,”’s senior vice president of people and places, Shane Koller, told the Post.

Ernst & Young has adopted a hybrid model that allows employees to make team-based decisions about when to work in the office or remotely. Combined with incentives such as reimbursements for commuting, child care and pet care, the policy has resulted in 150 percent increase in employees coming back since last February.

“By centering around flexibility, we’re creating norms that meet the needs of our people,” said Ginnie Carlier, EY Americas vice chair.

Some companies are taking advantage of this new normal to attract and retain talent.

Red Wing Shoe Company allowed teams to decide when to come into the office and when to work from home. Carrie Heimer, its chief human resources told the Post that the company is determined to explore ways to offer greater flexibility and support for all employees.

Similarly, tech company RingCentral asks its employees to come in 30 days a quarter, a shift from its previous requirement of three days a week. Mo Katibeh, its chief operating officer told the Post that it will be easier to monitor in-office time on a quarterly basis for each employee than on a weekly one.