Large U.S. cities see teams return to the office in July

Eric Lani
Eric Lani

If there’s one thing we’ve learned over the past year, it’s that change is always just around the corner.  

Since March of this year, our team of data scientists have been analyzing millions of real-life desk, conference room and office asset reservations from our global customer base to identify significant trends in the global-return-to-office (RTO).  

We’ve seen steps towards the triumphant in-office return but now, with the Delta variant on the loose, we are seeing some countries take steps back. 

In a world of uncertainty, data gives us a baseline to understand what’s happening with RTO plans, how employees are interacting with office spaces and which industries seem to be leading the in-office charge.

In the fifth volume of our RTO Tracker Series for July 2021, we’ve gathered data from our customer pool to help uncover some current key trends within the workforce.

Download the full infographic here.

Here’s what we saw in July: 

  • Office returns continued in the U.S. despite the Delta variant’s rise. The average U.S. office had a 43% increase in the number of employees returning and a 45% increase in desk bookings over the month. With this, the average U.S. office capacity rose to nearly 30% for the month.  
  • Australia and New Zealand continue to see decreased office use. Once at about 50% capacity in May, capacity dropped back to the 20%-30% range in ANZ by the end of July. 
  • Employee bounce rate in the U.S. continues to rise. In July, our team found the bounce rate to be 18%, a slight uptick from June (16%). 
  • Mining, oil & gas and retail top all other sectors for increases in desk reservations. While hospitality, transportation and construction top the list for industries that have the highest number of average days spent in the office. 

Global Trends in RTO 

We’ve gained quite a bit of insight from following the global and regional impacts and trends surrounding RTO, especially with continued flux due to COVID. 

According to our data, countries with the largest number of employees returning to the office in July include the U.S., Mexico and Cyprus. 

Top bookings per company

Comparatively, Australia and New Zealand experienced a –5.3% change in desk bookings during the month of July. 

When it comes to office-planning, these APAC countries can provide 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. 

 We may see the U.S. slow down with RTO activity as the Delta variant numbers continue to spike nationally.

Percent change in desk bookings

 U.S. Cities See an Uptick in RTO 

 For now, U.S. companies in major cities are pushing ahead with their returns. 

 Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and NYC have all seen an increase in RTO: 

  • Los Angeles - LA saw the largest increases in employees returning to the office (160%) and booking desks (195%). The industries leading RTO in Los Angeles include manufacturing, professional services and utilities.  
  • San Francisco - The city had a 50.1% increase in desk bookings and a 153% increase in the number of employees returning to the office last month. In SF, financial services, professional services and tech are driving RTO. 
  • Chicago – Chicago saw a big uptick in employees returning to the office (83%) as well as a significant increase in desk bookings (161%). Employees returning to the office serve in industries such as utilities, professional services and real estate. 
  • Boston - The uptick continues in Boston with month over month desk bookings. There was 64% growth in employees returning to the office and a 35% increase in desk bookings. In Boston, healthcare, financial services and nonprofits have the most staff working from the office.   
  • New York City - While NYC has seen a 9% increase in employees returning to the office, returns lag behind the national average with only an 11% increase in desk bookings. Industries driving NYC’s RTO include transportation and logistics, financial services and healthcare. 

The Industry Perspective 

Globally, Robin users in the mining, oil & gas industry, utilities and retail sectors have seen the largest increase in desk reservations.  

Monthly change in desk reservations

Utilities are experiencing the largest RTO, with the highest average of employees already back in the office. Construction and hospitality follow close behind. 

Average number of employees returned

When it comes to spending the most time in the office, hospitality, transportation & logistics and construction take the lead. 

Number of days spent in office

 A Closer Look at Employee Bounce Rates

 Employee bounce rate: The percentage of employees coming into the office once and not returning for the rest of the month.

This metric continues to see an uptick, as the number of employees going to the office more than two times a week is decreasing. Although more people are returning to their offices when compared to the Spring, the cadence has dropped from about three times every two weeks to one day a week. 

 Employee bounce rates differ based on company size. The data tells us that the increased bounce rate is primarily being driven by larger companies. 

 Interestingly, EMEA is the only region where bounce rates have improved over the last few months. 

Bounce rate by market segment
Regional bounce rates

With continued uncertainty around how COVID will impact regulations, it’s hard to predict what’s to come in the months ahead. 

We hope these insights can help workplace leaders identify pertinent trends to inform their decisions around RTO. 

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