Offices across the country are struggling to claw back pre-pandemic occupancy rates after two years of remote work. Now we are learning that offices in cities with longer commute times are having a much harder time.
The Wall Street Journal analyzed combined data from the U.S. Census Bureau and access control platform Kastle Systems and found that offices located in urban areas where employees tend to live closer to where they work have a higher return-to-office rate. Out of the ten major cities with the biggest drop in office occupancy during the pandemic, eight of them had an average one-way commute of thirty minutes or more (circa 2019). On the flipside, among the ten cities which had the smallest drop in office occupancy rate, six of them had average commutes of thirty minutes or less. The news comes as no surprise to landlords, as a Gallup survey from last year revealed that 52 percent of employees who preferred remote work cited that the lack of commute was the main reason they were resistant to returning to the office.
Because so many employees are refusing to commit to long commutes, getting employees into the office might need more than office design and amenities. Occupiers are deploying hub and spoke office footprint strategies in order to locate more offices closer to their workforces. This will create more challenges for landlords who are now required to grant easy access to more than one property for their tenants.