Return to Work: Office Visit Trends during Back-to-School

September 16, 2021

Office employees all over the world have had to contend with over a year of working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic. While some offices have reopened their doors in an attempt to return to normalcy, others remain fully remote or hybrid. 

Now that students are back in school, some parents are going back into the office. How are office visits trending during the back-to-school season? To find out, we compared visits to office buildings–defined as business venues that are not service-oriented– starting the week of July 18, 2021 through the week of August 8, 2021.

The Return to Work: Office Visit Trends during Back-to-School

Return to Work Trends in the U.S.

In recent weeks, more workers have been returning to office buildings. Visits to office buildings in the U.S. were 10% higher for the week of August 8, 2021, compared with the week of July 18. Why the increase in visits to offices? The back-to-school season may have been a factor in some people returning to the office full time. While some companies have begun to reopen office locations, the emergence of the Delta variant has caused others to push back the return to work.

Return to Work Trends by City

As many schools go back to in-person learning, some parents are finding their way back to the office in cities across the U.S. Most cities saw an increase in foot traffic to office buildings starting in August. For example, Baltimore saw 94% higher foot traffic for the week of August 1st, compared to the week of July 18th. Atlanta also experienced a large jump in office foot traffic, seeing a 52% and 94% increase for the weeks of August 1st and 8th, respectively. Other cities with workers returning to the office at the beginning of August include New York City, Las Vegas, and Oklahoma City.

Cities that didn’t experience a high return rate include Birmingham, Colorado Springs, Pittsburgh, and San Diego. What is different about those cities where office visits are increasing, compared to those where office visits are flat or decreasing? We’re not entirely sure. It could be that office visits largely depend on individual company policies, and whether or not industries in the area depend on workers being in the office.

Return to Work Trends By State

State-level data tells a similar story. Most states have seen office visits increase in recent weeks, especially in places like West Virginia, Colorado, Nevada, and Georgia. West Virginia (+68%) and Nevada (+54%) saw the largest growth in office visits during the week of August 8. States that haven’t experienced a back-to-office return are scattered across the country, and include Maine, Alaska, Kansas, and Rhode Island. 

When workers were polled in Maine, the vast majority preferred a hybrid work schedule with limited in-office days and a primarily remote working schedule. According to Bangor Daily News, a Maine publication, “Almost all [polled readers] said they would prioritize future employers that offered remote work and some said they would quit their job if they are not allowed to work remotely…”

This is a sentiment that has been felt across the country and in multiple industries, drawing out employee’s returns to the office as more employees demand flexibility from their employers, especially as their kids return to school.

Will office visits in the United States ever go back to pre-pandemic levels? Or are we slated to become a nation of hybrid workers? Based on our data, we predict that visits to office buildings will slowly increase in 2021. This depends on several factors, however, including the pandemic and employees’ confidence in their employers to ensure a safe and healthy working environment.

For more information on location intelligence and how it may be right for your business, contact us to speak with an expert today.

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