News release: Insignificant jump in office occupancy suggests slow return to the office

23 September 2021

With an average of 16.6% occupancy, there was no significant increase in the number of office workers returning to their desks last week, according to the latest nationwide research from Remit Consulting.

Since May this year, the management consultant has been analysing the number of office-based workers attending the workplace on a daily basis, using data from automatic turnstiles in over 150 major office buildings around the UK, to assess the number of people entering offices as a percentage of the capacity for each building. The data, published in the firm’s ‘Return Report’, is supplied by building and property managers.

In the week commencing Monday 13th September, the volume of people returning to work saw an increase of just 0.2 percentage points (16.4% to 16.6%) when compared to the previous week, which was the first week back after the school holidays in England and Wales.

Remit Consulting's Lorna Landells said: "It would appear that, following the wave of optimism at the end of the school holidays, the growth in the number of people back in the office on any particular day appears to be flatlining.

“This is a pattern that we saw earlier in the study, where the national average hovered around 10-11% for a number of weeks, with small, incremental growth. As a significant number of businesses are not yet requiring their staff to return to the office, it is possible that the same trend will repeat itself in the coming weeks.”

Remit Consulting’s research again identified some geographical variations in the numbers across the country.

In London, the weekly average volume of office workers back at their desks was, at 16.1%, close to the national average. However, the weekly average for the West End office market was 10 percentage points higher at 26.1%. By comparison, the weekly figures for Docklands (13.6%), The City (13.8%) and Midtown (11.5%) were below the national average.

In Manchester, which overall saw a weekly average of 18.3%, the city centre market had fewer office staff at their desks (17.2%) compared to N.O.M.A, which saw a weekly average office occupancy of 24.9%.

In Scotland, where the working from home guidance remains in force, the average number of staff at their desks for Glasgow increase reached just 7.0% (up from 6.9% in the previous week), while in Edinburgh the average reached 16.7%, a significant increase of 4.3 percentage points compared to the previous week.

Remit Consulting’s Return Report is supported by the British Property Federation and the Property Advisors Forum, and the data is supplied by many of the country's largest firms of property managers.

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