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Workers Back At The Office At Highest Rate Since Pandemic Began


The world of office buildings is still far from back to normal, but a milestone has been reached nonetheless.

The percentage of workers who went into the office during the week ending Oct. 8 reached its highest level since the coronavirus pandemic began, according to Kastle SystemsBack to Work Barometer. The weekly report, which measures keycard entries into offices in 10 of the largest cities in the U.S., found an average of 36% occupancy, up from 33.6% from the week after Labor Day.

With the most recent delta variant-driven surge of the coronavirus in retreat, the scientific community is virtually certain that the worst of the pandemic is over, at least in the U.S. Combined with the prevalence of vaccine mandates driving a slow-but-steady increase in vaccination rates, confidence is growing that it is safe to be in offices.

The remaining question, then, is how many of the workers who previously worked in offices full time will return for at least a few days per week. Cushman & Wakefield has predicted that office occupancy rates will settle into something like their long-term levels in the first quarter of next year.

Among major employers that haven't yet brought back the majority of their employees, BlackRock, Whirlpool and Lions Gate Entertainment have set return dates for this month or early next month, The Wall Street Journal reports

Amazon, which had previously announced that most office-using workers would be required to come in three days a week starting in January, announced on Monday that it will instead let individual teams decide what mix of remote and in-person work makes sense for them, CNN reports.

Having proven that they can remain productive while working remotely, many workers are pushing back against employers attempting to mandate in-person work. Some level of hybrid work seems to have become the consensus model for many companies going forward. Whether through financial incentivesperks or office redesigns, many employers are attempting to entice workers back without imposing a mandate that could drive some employees to find new work in a job market that is as applicant-friendly as it has been in a generation.