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NextGen Magazine


Offices Occupancy Rates Rise Above 50% for First Time Since Pandemic Began

S.J. Steinhardt
Published Date:
Feb 2, 2023

Workers are returning to the office in numbers not seen since the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, The Wall Street Journal reported.

The average office use number last week was 50.4 percent of early 2020 levels in 10 major U.S. cities, according to Kastle Systems, a company that tracks security swipes into buildings. Offices are emptiest on Friday and most crowded on Tuesdays, the company found.

Companies have been trying to get more workers to return to the office, some more voluntarily than others. Cities want people repopulating their business districts during the day, occupying offices and patronizing stores and restaurants, the Washington Post reported.

New York state Gov. Kathy Hochul and New York City Mayor Eric Adams have urged workers to return to their offices, citing less crime on the city’s subways, according to Crain's New York Business.

Starbucks has ordered employees within commuting distance to work a minimum of three days a week in the office, while Walt Disney Co. will require workers to be in the office four days a week starting in March, the Journal reported.

The U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill yesterday that would require federal workers to return to their offices. “It’s time for the federal workforce to get back to work in-person for the American people,” U.S. Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.), chair of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, said in a statement. “For years  now, Americans have suffered because of the federal government’s detrimental pandemic-era telework policies.”  But, according to the Federal News Network, this legislation has only a small chance of being enacted, since Democrats control the Senate, and they favor expanded telework options.

Almost half—47 percent—of all federal employees participated in telework in fiscal year 2021, the Office of Personnel Management reported in December.

Washington, D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser has asked the Biden administration to require more federal workers to return to the office, saying, “The federal government represents one-quarter of D.C.’s pre-pandemic jobs and owns or leases one-third of our office space,” Government Executive reported.  She said that if the Biden administration isn’t going to “get most federal workers back to the office most of the time” it should realign its “vast property holdings” for other uses, the Journal reported.