One year after the nation’s offices were shut down due to COVID-19, office workers are beginning a slow return as occupancy crept up 0.7 percent last week, according to the latest weekly occupancy report from access control firm Kastle Systems.
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More than half of the cities measured by the Kastle Back to Work Barometer saw increases in building occupancy, bringing the 10-city national average up to 24.8 percent, a 0.7 percent rise from the previous week. Dallas (with a 36.9 percent occupancy rate, up 2.5 percent), Houston (36.7 percent, up 0.6 percent) and Austin, Texas, (35.8 percent, up 2.4 percent) continued to lead the nation as the most open cities for office workers.
The report looks at metros for the following areas: Los Angeles; New York; Chicago; Dallas; Washington, D.C.; San Francisco; Houston; Philadelphia; Austin; and San Jose, Calif. The Barometer is an average of the Top 10 cities it serves based on millions of aggregated, anonymous daily building access data points from Kastle-secured properties. To compile it, Kastle System uses keycard, fob and KastlePresence app access date from 2,681 buildings in 138 cities.
“As more and more states rollout vaccines, we expect office occupancy rates to continue to increase,” Kastle Systems CEO Haniel Lynn told Commercial Property Executive. “A year ago this week, businesses started sending home their workforces in droves to flatten the curve. What we’ve seen through our Kastle Back to Work Barometer is that those who left the office last March have been slowly starting to come back, though occupancy rates have remained well below 50 percent nationwide. We’ve seen a few other dips over the past year, due to national events like Inauguration Day or large winter storms, but what we’re hearing from our customers is that widespread vaccinations will likely lead to increased comfort around returning to the office.”
By the numbers
Four of the 10 cities tracked experienced slight declines last week. There was a 0.1 percent or less drop in Philadelphia (25.5 percent occupancy), Washington, D.C., (22.0 percent) and San Jose (15.8 percent) while New York, with 14.9 percent occupancy, had a 0.2 percent decrease.
On March 3, the remaining metros had the following occupancy figures: Chicago, 19.6 percent, up 1.3 percent; San Francisco, 13.7 percent, up 0.5 percent, and Los Angeles, 26.6 percent, up 0.1 percent.
Read the full report by Kastle Systems.