A new report breaks down the ‘commuting zones’ around the U.S. that have had the highest rates of remote workers, providing a more granular look at where remote work has become most prevalent. The research from the Economic Innovation Group reveals that, as of 2021, there were at least 42 U.S. regions where 20 percent or more of the population was working remotely. Nationally, remote work increased to 17.9 percent in 2021 from 5.6 percent in the pre-pandemic year of 2019.
Some of the regions that had the largest share of remote workers shouldn’t come as a surprise. Washington, D.C., had the most remote workers (34 percent), followed by San Francisco (33 percent) and Austin, Texas (32 percent). One surprise is that New York City’s percentage of remote workers was 23 percent and further down on the list, alongside cities like Columbus, Ohio (22 percent) and Wilmington, Delaware (22 percent).
It’s important to note that a higher share of remote workers doesn’t always correlate to a low office occupancy rate, and the remote work percentage is just one factor among many for lower occupancy. For example, Austin ranked high in remote work, but it also has one of the highest office occupancy rates in the nation at 61.9 percent as of September 28th, according to Kastle Systems.
There are several theories as to why this is the case, including that Austin has a more diverse industry mix, a more “old-school” Texas office culture, and that pandemic restrictions have been more relaxed. Either way, the new statistics that break down remote work percentages by region can be another vital data point office owners and investors use when analysing office markets.