Skip to main content

News Release: UK office occupancy rates plateau

23 June 2023

The hybrid working genie is “out of the bottle” as UK average occupancy rates hover at around 30% in the first half of the year.

Average office occupancy rates in the UK in the past month remained consistently below those experienced before the pandemic, according to the latest research from Remit Consulting.

The management consultant’s Return report reveals that, following a strong second half of May, the week ending the 2nd of June, due to the Bank Holiday and industrial action, witnessed the weakest occupancy levels since the New Year at just 22.7%. It bounced back the following week to a more normal 30.8%.

In the week ending Friday 16th, with few external factors impacting on office visits, the national average rose slightly to 31.5%.  Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays remain the busiest days of the week for people in the office, according to Remit Consulting’s research and last week, the national average office occupancy exceeded 35% on these three days (last week) and around double the figure witnessed on Friday (18.4%).

Last week in London, the average office occupancy rates were over 40% on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, however, they fell to just 16.1% on Friday.

Lorna Landells of Remit Consulting said “While the data remains somewhat volatile due to bank holidays and industrial action, the national average has held steady at around 30% since the start of the year, suggesting that hybrid working for office-based staff is the new normal. Despite the insistence by some high-profile businesses that staff should return to their desks full-time, this is clearly not happening universally.

“The genie is out of the bottle, and there are major implications for the office sector.  With many older and obsolete office properties simply being surplus to the requirements of occupiers, the commercial property sector needs to rethink how these assets can be improved or repurposed to adjust to the reality of how, and where, we work," she added.

There are diverse views in the property sector regarding what constitutes maximum occupancy for offices, with some industry commentators suggesting that, due to holidays, external meetings, staff sickness and other operational issues, offices were only ever 60-80% ‘full’ before the pandemic.

Previous research from the BCO suggested a figure of 60%, while other market practitioners suggest a figure of between 70% and 80% at peak times in the calendar, although this will have varied widely according to individual buildings and businesses.

The graph shows an adjusted figure to compare current figures Monday - Friday.