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Guess who’s back again? Employees, as office visits increase across US in September

September Return to Office Tracker
Eric Lani
Published on

A lot can happen in a month.

Since our last volume, we’ve seen President Biden announce vaccine and testing mandates for businesses. We’ve watched as some companies double-down on the return-to-office while others are waiting for a fresh start in 2022. 

September saw more foot traffic in office spaces as employees came back to the office once the summer closed out.

Desk bookings are up 15% from August indicating many companies kept their September return dates. The dips we saw in August were likely driven by vacations or a spike in concern around the Delta variant.

In the seventh volume of our RTO Tracker Series, we’ll dissect data from our global customer base to uncover current key workplace trends.

Let’s take a closer look.

Download the full infographic here

U.S. sees big increase in employees returning to office

Our predictions were right, the August dip in visits was less about Delta concerns and more about soaking up the end of summer. 

Employees are back now that the Fall weather is settling in, just take a look at the numbers:

  • The US saw a 21% increase in employees returning to work compared to August.
  • Conference room bookings were up 9% from last month.
  • Friday is still the least popular day to work in the office
  • But the rest of the week is starting to even out in usage.

We expect to see these numbers stay steady into November but as the holiday season approaches workplace leaders should be prepared for another dip later in the year.

Increase employees reurn to office

Big cities see big uptick in employees returning to office

San Francisco, New York and Boston all saw 30% or more of an increase in the percent of employees returning to the office. NY and SF returns were largely driven by the IT industry. Both of which saw IT employees returning above the national average.

Interestingly, Boston and Chicago saw double digit decreases in the percent of employees returning in the education sector and LA also saw a dip in desk reservations for education.

Larger companies see a higher employee bounce rate

Overall, the employee bounce rate decreased by about 2% from August and the average number of days employees spend in the office per month increased by a day.

This shows us that people are starting to make office visits more than a once-a-month occurrence, indicating that the office is likely being used as a workplace tool to collaborate, find some quiet space, or schedule in-person meetings with vendors and clients.

Yet we are still seeing bounce rates increase for larger companies (5000+ employees).  IT, which saw some of the most drastic returns, has the highest bounce rate of any industry.

Industry bounce rates

Majority of industries see more regular office visits

When we zoom in on the data with an industry lens, we generally see an uptick across the spectrum for office visits. The one exception? Wholesale, an industry that also saw a dip in desk reservations. 

Here are a few more interesting data points to note:

  • Utilities; Mining, Oil and Gas; and Hospitality have the highest average employees working from the office
  • Hospitality, Family services, and Transportation top the list of how often employees come into the office (around 1 time a week)
  • IT, Healthcare, and professional services saw the biggest gains of employees returning. 

Workplace leaders will need to measure and understand return-to-office

The return-to-office is happening, as companies settle into this new phase they will need to find ways to measure the success of their plans. These results will enable workplace leaders to find new ways to improve the workplace experience so employees continue to come back. 

This cycle will continue to play out because the workplace will be viewed as a resource for teams. As needs change, offices will adapt because the workplace transcends any physical location, offices are merely another tool to facilitate your team's best work.  

Workplace leaders need to be agile and willing to adapt to employee needs, changing external circumstances and the change management that comes along with it all.

featured report

Return to Office Report 2024