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Almost 90% Of CRE Brokers Are Back At The Office, Survey Finds

The vast majority of commercial real estate brokers, some 88%, are back in the office at least part time, with a substantial number back full time, according to the latest Apto National Broker Buzz Poll, conducted in August among thousands of U.S. brokers.


Altogether, 42% of CRE brokers are working from their offices full time again, while 19% are working a hybrid schedule, according to the poll by commercial real estate broker software company Apto. A small number, 8%, never stopped going to the office, and about 1 in 5 said their home office is the main office in any case.

Only 11% said they haven't returned to the office and aren't sure when they will. A tiny number (1%) said they would return after Labor Day. Almost half of the respondents said their co-workers were back full time, with 26% of their co-workers following a hybrid schedule. 

The poll results show CRE brokers are ahead of the curve when it comes to returning to the office. Most companies that had return-to-office plans for Labor Day at the latest have delayed them because of the delta variant, according to a survey of 238 executives conducted by human resources consulting firm Gartner in late August. 

The Kastle Systems Back to Work Barometer, which is based on card swipes tracked by Kastle, showed a decline in each of the first three weeks of August, though there was a mild uptick the week of Aug. 24. Average occupancy across 10 major metro office markets is 33%, according to Kastle. 

Twenty-five percent of the respondents to the Apto survey said they expect their brokerage firms to reduce office footprints in the next two to three years, while 17% said they expect their company's space commitment to increase over that period. A majority (58%) said there would be no change.

The camaraderie of the office is important to CRE brokers, the survey reveals. Over three-quarters of the respondents agreed with the statement "I miss being around more people in person." Working remotely has decreased their brokerage team's productivity, according to 39% of the respondents, while 15% say that productivity has increased. Productivity hasn't changed much, according to 46%.

The coronavirus pandemic has made brokers embrace technology more, according to 72% of the respondents. Some 64% say they are excited about what tech can do for their business.

Most brokers (79%) say they have been vaccinated against the coronavirus, while 12% say they have not and 9% had no response to the question. Nationwide, 53.3% of Americans are fully vaccinated as of Monday, according to the Mayo Clinic.