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The return-to-office trend doesn’t mean quite what you think

New analysis of office activity in July shows that more people are going back to the office but only about one day per week.

Image: GettyImages/Halfpoint

More people went back to the office in July but they only showed up about one day per week, according to a new report. In the Return to Office Tracker Report, scheduling platform Robin found that the average U.S. office had a 43% increase in the number of employees returning, and a 45% increase in desk bookings month over month. The analysis found that the average U.S. office capacity went up to nearly 30% for July.

The analysis crunched the numbers from desk, conference room and office asset reservations from Robin’s global customers to track the global return-to-office trend. Users can reserve spaces and desks via Robin’s platform, check out office maps and reserve an office pass for days spent working in person with colleagues. This is the fifth report in Robin’s RTO Tracker Series. 

SEE: Robin CRO gives details on Office Pass app and Return to the Office Tracker research report (TechRepublic)

One of the more interesting stats from the report is the employee bounce rate. The report defines the bounce rate as the percentage of employees coming into the office once and not returning for the rest of the month. According to the report, this number went up slightly to 18% in July for U.S. companies. This means that “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.”

According to the company, if the bounce rate increases, that means a larger percent of employees are only going into the office once and not coming back. The bounce rate has a strong relationship with office capacity, meaning that an office with a high bounce rate could have lower capacity or more people working from home. 

The Robin report found that the bounce rate has gone down for offices in Europe, the Middle East and Africa with a larger share of employees going into the office more than once a month. The office is stickier, and once employees return to the office they tend to continue to use it, according to a company spokesperson. 

Companies in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Chicago, Boston and New York have all been bringing more people back to the office. Los Angeles had the biggest increase in July of 160% more employees working in person again and a 195% increase in desk reservations. 

Chicago saw a big uptick in employees returning to the office with an 83% increase over June as well as a significant increase in desk bookings: 161%.  

There was 64% growth month over month in Boston of employees returning to the office and a 35% increase in desk bookings. 

In San Francisco, there was a 50.1% increase in desk bookings and a 153% increase in the number of employees returning to the office last month. 

New York City had the slowest growth with a 9% increase in RTO numbers and an 11% increase in desk bookings.  

Financial services companies, professional service firms and utility companies were the most likely to bring people back to the office in July, in addition to companies that require in-person work such as hospitality and construction.

Worldwide RTO trends

The U.S., Mexico and Cyprus were the countries with the largest number of employees returning to the office in July.

Companies in Australia and New Zealand were the first to send people back to in-person work, but that trend has slowed down. Offices were at about 50% capacity in May but that number dropped to the 20%-30% range by the end of July.

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