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Midweek Manhattan Office Visits At 70% Of Pre-Pandemic Levels


Workers haven’t returned to Manhattan’s office towers in the same numbers as before the pandemic, but in-person work may be more frequent in the Big Apple than previous data suggested — and is slowly ticking up, according to new findings.

Same-day visits, characterized by recurring office attendance on a select weekday, were up to 73% of their 2019 levels during the first five months of this year, according to new data from the Real Estate Board of New York and cellphone location tracking firm

The results show an increase from the first quarter of this year, when REBNY and found that the average building visitation rates were 61% compared to 2019.

“I think it's a positive reflection of the slow but steady progress that office buildings and employers are making,” Keith DeCoster, REBNY director of market data and policy, said in a statement. “Employees want the flexibility, but they also want to be back in the office and working with their co-workers.”

Midweek visitations, meaning the number of employee visits from Tuesdays through Thursdays, stand at 68% of 2019 levels, REBNY and found. 

The big shift with hybrid working schedules shows up on Mondays and Fridays, when visit rates averaged 56% and 37%, respectively. Tuesday is the most popular day to be in the office, with visits reaching 70% of pre-pandemic levels from January through May, per the report.

REBNY and surveyed 250 Manhattan office buildings spanning approximately 180M SF to produce the data. The results stand in contrast to card swipe data from Kastle Systems, which has shown New York metro offices at 50% of 2019 occupancy throughout 2023.

While the data might give owners reason for optimism, increased occupancy hasn't translated to an office market recovery. Office availability hit a new high in the second quarter and has risen 79% since March 2020, according to Savills. 

Slow leasing has added to challenges for office owners struggling with rising debt costs. A JLL analysis found that roughly 15% of office properties are now worth less than they most recently sold for.