While hybrid work environments are more popular than ever, and even as the number of employees demanding better work-life balance increases, it seems employers are starting to win the return-to-office battle.
According to a recent analysis of Kastle Systems’ 10-city Back to Work Barometer, published by MarketWatch, the occupancy rate of workplaces after Labor Day weekend in 10 major cities surpassed 50% for the first time since July. This measurement tracks keycard swipes at office buildings, providing a solid measure of office attendance for analysts.
Notably, all 10 major U.S. cities monitored by Kastle witnessed an increase in workplace occupancy around Labor Day, bringing the occupancy rate to 50.3%. Houston, Texas, led the way with a weekly occupancy rate of 61.6%, while New York City experienced the most significant jump — a 7.5% increase to 50.1%.
Prior to the national attendance spike, many notable U.S. employers including Goldman Sachs and Amazon had announced their intentions to enforce stricter RTO mandates. This kind of movement was also projected by a July report from JLL — which estimated that around one million office-based employees in the U.S. would be impacted by RTO mandates by year’s end, according to Market Watch.
The key swipe data doesn’t necessarily mean that the end of remote work is on the horizon. While the current trend suggests a gradual return to the office, the hybrid model’s ongoing persistence still shows that the workforce’s future will likely be more flexible than in the past. As companies and employees debate work arrangements, it’s clear that the traditional 9-to-5 office routine may never fully return.