RTO tracker #6: Summer and Delta impact shown in RTO data

Eric Lani
Eric Lani

It’s time again for Robin’s return-to-office tracker. And, as always, there’s plenty to discuss. 

With the Delta variant still causing trouble across the world, we’ve been eagerly tracking the data to better understand where the world stands with RTO.

While we can't predict what’s to come, we can help you make informed decisions based on current trends. Understanding the way things have changed helps us to anticipate and proactively address the needs of tomorrow.  

In the sixth volume of our RTO Tracker Series, we’ve gathered data from our global customer base to uncover current key trends within the workforce.

Download the full infographic here

Let’s take a closer look.

Employee bounce rate climbed in August

Employee bounce rate is up to about 19% in August, up 1.5% from July. 

In fact, the percentage of people coming in 3-4 times a week has dropped from 16% in April to under 10% in August.

Defined as the percentage of employees coming into the office once and not returning for the rest of the calendar month, we can’t help but wonder if these dips are because: 

  1. Companies are becoming more flexible as time goes on.
  2. People are less willing to come in for most of the week.
  3. A combination of the two.

Regardless of the driving factor, the number of times per month the average employee came in dropped from about 5 and half to about 4 and a half in the past 5 months. 

Interestingly, in April, Construction, Hospitality and Government took the lead in visits per month. Yet, all three of these sectors saw employee visits dip from more than 7 times a month to less than 6 times a month in August.  

Office visits see a dip in August

August is the end of summer. Teams typically take days off to enjoy the last rays of summer. But, this year, there was another player in the mix: the dreaded Delta variant. 

While we can’t be completely certain whether Delta or the final dog days of summer were to blame for the lower in-office numbers, we do know that: 

  • Very few countries saw employees in-office per company rise from July to August.
  • Global conference room booking also saw a 1% drop in August - the first month we have seen a dip since March.
  • This matches with historic trends as conference room booking usually sees a small dip that rebounds in Sept. 

When it comes to office-planning, APAC countries can provide the US with a lens into the future. Both Australia and New Zealand were the first to lead the return-to-office, but as the Delta variant became more of an issue, the move back into the office was slowed. 

Notably, in August, Australia saw office capacity drop to 10% as well as a decline in desk bookings and employees in office.

Both Australia and New Zealand were the first to lead the return-to-office, but as the Delta variant became more of an issue, the move back into the office was slowed. When it comes to office-planning, APAC countries can provide the US with a small lens into the future.

Mobile solutions drives in-office engagement 

When it comes to engaging employees that are making the trek into the office, mobile-first solutions may be key. 

We’ve seen that of the people who use Robin's mobile app, 60% become week-over-week users of the office.

"Giving employees the tools they need is critical. The familiar Office Pass that users know is now more interactive and inviting, with features that eliminate the ambiguity in planning a trip back to the office,” said Robin CTO Brian Muse. 

Returns are varying by city

Location has a role to play in the return-to-office trends. Both San Francisco and New York saw a decline in the number of employees returning to the office. Both seem to be driven by drop in tech sector (IT) returns

Interestingly, LA is still seeing RTO growth as tech firms seem to be the big driver in the area.

Boston remained roughly the same for office visits from July to August. However, drops in RTO progress for sectors like non-profit and wholesale seem to be getting offset by the return of Healthcare and Professional services.

Some industries are still seeing growth in returns

Despite the general decrease in office foot traffic, there are some industries still seeing an uptick in their return-to-office efforts.

Retail, media & telecom, and government in particular saw increases in the number of employees coming back to their office spaces. Retail had a notably big push as consumers continue to shop despite the rise in Delta cases. 

On the flip side, education and construction saw big dips in the number of on-site employees. For schools this definitely has to do with the lower vaccination rates among children. Leaders in education have been dealing with outbreaks across the country, resulting in delayed or drastically different return-to-school models. 

Both construction and education were top players in the uptick of return-to-office just last month, demonstrating just how quick the landscape can change.

Looking forward: Planning for continued uncertainty

We’ve seen our fair share of strides and setbacks as companies continue to push forward with RTO plans. 

Yet with returning mask mandates and heightened COVID restrictions rolling back nation-wide, it’s hard to predict what the future will hold. 

One thing is for certain – having flexible plans and policies in place can help business leaders better prepare for whatever the future may hold.  Here are a few tactical steps to get your started.

1. Talk to your teams: Whatever changes you make, make sure you talk to your teams first. What do they need to feel supported? What RTO approach makes them most comfortable? 

2. Level the playing field: It's crucial that employers take steps to provide all remote, in-office, and hybrid team members fair and equitable access to office resources. 

3. Don’t be afraid to refine: Be willing to try new approaches and adapt as needed. There is no playbook for how to move forward, trial and error is ok. 

Ready to get started? Schedule a free Robin demo today.

Recommended for you