Oct 4, 2022 - Business

Richmond’s return to the office outpaces other cities

Illustration of a set of office chairs gradually moving up

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

More Richmonders are returning to the office than workers in most major cities.

Driving the news: A new report based on keycard data from Kastle Systems suggests office occupancy rates are higher in Richmond than 25 of the largest markets across the nation.

  • Kastle's portfolio represents 2,600 buildings and 41,000 businesses in 47 states.
  • The 25 other markets include D.C., Atlanta, Boston, Philadelphia, New York and Austin.

By the numbers: Office occupancy in the Richmond metro area hit 60.5% in mid-September, according to Kastle swipe card data provided to Axios.

  • The 25-city national average for the same period was 48.4%.
  • The Richmond rate has hovered around 50% or higher since April compared to Kastle's 25-city national average of 40% or higher in the same time period.

Yes, but: Kastle's Richmond sample is small — based on just 10 buildings in the metro area. All markets still lag way behind pre-pandemic levels.

  • Kastle declined to share the location or parts of town of its buildings, citing privacy concerns.

The intrigue: Richmond Kastle buildings saw a spike in entry swipes in July, coinciding with when Gov. Glenn Youngkin's mandate to return to in-person work went into effect for state employees.

What we're watching: Even though the Richmond sample is small, it's impressive, especially to companies eager to get workers back in the office, Jennifer Wakefield, president and CEO of the metro area's economic development agency, The Greater Richmond Partnership, tells Axios.

  • So GRP is using the data as a recruiting tool to try to entice companies to relocate to Richmond where they'll find a diverse — and in-person — workforce, Wakefield said.

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