Office Usage Spikes Above Halfway Mark After Labor Day, Kastle Reports
Office usage rose to 50.3% for the period after the Labor Day weekend holiday — the week ending Sept. 13 — in the 10 metro markets Kastle tracks for its Back to Work Barometer, putting the total over 50% for the first time since July.
That represented a turnaround from the period ending Sept. 6, when the barometer came in at 47%.
Kastle noted that there was a seasonal element to the increases, since for each of the post-Labor Day periods since the pandemic, there have been gains in most markets.
Corporate policy demanding that workers return to the office have ramped up and could be contributing to the increase, though the evidence for that is still inconclusive.
A number of corporations have put policies in place requiring more workers to physically return, as they have periodically for some time now, but few have offered details about how those policies would be enforced or how they would respond to employee anger at such mandates, such as Grindr Inc., which operates LGBTQ dating app Grindr, which reportedly lost nearly half of its staff after trying to enforce a return-to-office mandate.
Even so, New York City surged the most in terms of occupancy post-Labor Day, Kastle reported, up 7.5% to 50.1%. For more than a year, New York has struggled to break 50%, rising slowly from 40% in the summer of 2022. Washington, D.C., rose to a new record high since the onset of the pandemic, up 4.1% to 47.9% occupancy.
Philadelphia and San Jose also enjoyed healthy occupancy gains of 4.1% after Labor Day, according to Kastle. Tech-heavy San Jose has long been at the bottom when it comes to office occupancy, and it still is. Nevertheless, it now stands at 41.5%, the highest the market has been since early 2023.
Markets with already high occupancies also recorded gains, though more modest ones. Houston, the most-occupied office market — and the only one over 60% — was up to 61.6%.