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Which U.S. Cities Have Seen the Greatest Return to In-Office Work?

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More than two years after the COVID-19 pandemic forced millions of employees to start working remotely, executives across the country are doing what they can to convince staff that it’s time to return to the office for good.

At Goldman Sachs, CEO David Solomon announced in March that employees must return to the office five days a week. JP Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon announced a similar measure last month, requiring at least 50% of the company to return in-person work full time.

And while companies have had mixed success trying to get their workers back into the office, some cities have fared far better than others, according to new data from Kastle Systems, an office security company that tracks workers’ badge swipes and keycard usage at more than 2,600 buildings it manages across 47 states.

Which cities have the highest office attendance?

The study found there’s no state where workers are returning to the office faster than in Texas. In Austin, office buildings are 59% occupied during the work-week ending on April 20, according to Kastle’s data. Previous weekly highs in the city in 2022 were above 60%.

Other Texas cities, including Houston and Dallas, have seen the next highest rates of office attendance, both hovering around 50% over the same week.

By comparison, office buildings in New York City were at just 33% occupancy during the same period. San Jose, California had the lowest rates of any city Kastle measured, at just 31% during that time. And nationwide, offices in the 10 largest U.S. cities with buildings tracked by Kastle are hovering around 40% occupancy.

Which cities are struggling to draw workers back to the office? 

Interestingly, Kastle Systems’ data shows the cities with the least success in getting employees back to work in offices are largely centered in California. The firm’s list of the five cities with the lowest percentage of workers in the office on April 27, 2022 is as follows:

  • Chicago: 39.8%
  • San Jose: 34.2%
  • Los Angeles: 40.9%
  • New York: 37.4% 
  • San Francisco: 35.4%
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As the data shows, the city of Austin lies far ahead of New York City in its progress in getting workers back to the office.

This is likely due to a combination of factors, not the least of which is the enormous growth that city has seen in recent years. Amazon, Meta, and Apple all expanded within Austin in the past two years, and Bloomberg recently announced it’s doing the same.

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About Author

Marie Edinger is a multimedia journalist and news anchor. She’s originally from Gainesville, Florida, where she went to the University of Florida’s College of Journalism to study Communications and Spanish Linguistics. She loves hiking, trying new recipes, and all things relating to The Lord of the Rings.

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