Mar 15, 2024 - Business

Weekly peak office attendance is still nowhere near pre-pandemic levels

Data: Kastle Systems; Note: Office occupancy is measured against February 2020 levels set at 100%; Metro areas include Washington, D.C., New York, Chicago, Houston, Philadelphia, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Dallas, San Jose, and Austin; Peak occupancy day is typically Tuesday or Wednesday; Chart: Axios Visuals

Office occupancy levels on the busiest day of the week are just 62% of their February 2020 average, according to Kastle Systems' office swipe data for 10 major metros.

Why it matters: It's been four years since COVID first shut down offices in the U.S., and the decline in office use has touched nearly all aspects of our lives — from where people live, to how they structure their work-family balance to the way companies operate.

  • The shift is, of course, roiling the commercial real estate market, as Axios' Kate Marino wrote this week.

Zoom in: Peak office days, typically Tuesdays or Wednesdays, are a useful measure for employers who need to have space available for everyone who wants to come to work in person.

  • And they give a better sense of the return to office momentum than Kastle's previous system of just publishing the five-day average, says Kastle CEO Haniel Lynn.
  • While occupancy is at 61.7% on those high-attendance days, it falls to around 35% on Fridays.
  • Those Fridays drag down the weekly average — it was only 52.5% for the week ending March 6.

The bottom line: The number on peak occupancy days has been creeping up, though isn't likely to go back to 100% anytime soon, says Lynn.

Go deeper