Thousands of companies that closed their offices in March 2020 have not yet provided plans to reopen. Despite plummeting COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations, millions of office employees are continuing to work after the omicron variant surged in December. And remote work remains the prevalent option even as a growing number of states roll back mask mandates at indoor venues, businesses and schools.
According to Kastle Systems, which records building access card swipes, an average of 33% of the workforce returned to office during the first week of February in the 10 major cities it monitors. Eleven weeks ago, in early December, the occupancy rate was about 41%.
Kastle has been studying keycard, fob and KastlePresence app access data from the 2,600 buildings and 41,000 businesses it secures in 47 states. The company analyzes anonymized data to identify trends in how Americans are returning to the office.
Austin currently has the highest occupancy in the country, Kastle reported. The city’s office population rose 4.2% in the first week of February, bringing its occupancy rate up to 47.7%.
The legal industry continues to see above-average occupancy, Kastle’s data show. In the cities monitored by Kastle, legal office occupancy increased 2.9% in the past week, reaching 54.8%.
Kastle also examines occupancy other activities, and found Americans are returning to air travel and restaurants, among other areas. Attendance at NBA games, for example, is almost what it was in February 2020. TSA checkpoints and data from OpenTable show flying and reservation rates are 79.9% and 73.5%, respectively, of what they were in February 2020. Office attendance lags way behind these indicators.
“We’re confident occupancy rates will continue to rise in the months to come, and we’re ready to help the transition happen,” a Kastle Systems spokesperson said.