The Battle Of Occupancy Data Rages On

By Franco Faraudo

An op-ed was published in The New York Post yesterday titled More Workers Returning to NYC Office Buildings Than Previously Reported: Study. In it, the author points out that a new study contradicts the most common metric for understanding office occupancy, the access control company Kastle System’s Return to Work Barometer. A recently published study by The Partnership for New York City shows that 59 percent of workers in Manhattan now work from an office on the average week. This, as the author was quick to point out, is quite a bit higher than the 50.1 percent reported by Kastle. This means that the return to the office might be more prevalent than some may think, especially for a place like Manhattan.

While I applaud the desire for accuracy, this article seemed to have a bit of an agenda. The article uses the validity of the barometer to call the publications that use it into question: “Yet, some media outlets continue to credulously cite Kastle as gospel.” The article points out some of the shortcomings of the Kastle Barometer—the numbers are based on buildings that have Kastle turnstiles installed—but doesn’t spend any time looking at potential problems in the Partnership’s data. The data used was from a survey, not actual usage data, for example. Plus, there is no mention of any possible bias the organization might have to promote New York City’s office industry. This isn’t the first time another organization has put together a return to work metric to rival Kastle’s; REBNY also started its own back in February. I couldn’t agree more that we need a much more holistic understanding of occupancy, but calling out a company for reporting its numbers in earnest does nothing to achieve that.

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