NYC Office Occupancies on the Rise

Partnership for New York City estimated that occupancy would rise to a daily average of 54% by January.

The setting sun is reflected in the windows of One Vanderbilt, the second tallest office building in New York City

Anthony Devlin/Getty Images

Office occupancies in New York are rising as COVID concerns ease, based on a survey of major tenants in the city expected to be released later this week. 

In mid-September, 49% of Manhattan’s office workers were at the workplace on an average weekday, according to the most recent data from a running survey by the Partnership for New York City. The group estimated that office occupancy rates would rise to 54% by January. Partnership for New York City is expected to release new data this week.

Key Takeaways

  • Office occupancy in New York City is expected to reach 54%.
  • Data shows a steady rise in in-person workplace attendance, with real estate and law having the highest number of employees in the office on an average workday.
  • The majority of employers expect to stick with hybrid schedules, largely due to employee preference.

The occupancy rate is up from 38% in April and shows a steady rise in in-person attendance as employers try to lure workers back to the office. 

According to the last update from the group, in September, 77% of employers planned to have a hybrid work model for the foreseeable future, largely based on employee preference. The September survey found that on average, 55% of employees are in the office at least three days a week. 

Data from Kastle systems, a security operations company that tracks card swipes in offices, said workplace occupancy in the New York metro area was 47.2% on Jan. 18, up from 45.6% on Jan. 12. On average, in-office occupancy ranges from 25% to 59% over a week, according to Kastle data.

Kastle’s Workplace Barometer only shows and reports data from the 2,600 buildings that it manages nationwide and compiles data based on the number of swipes to enter their buildings. 

New York’s return to office rate, according to Kastle, is lower than the average tracked across the 10 major metros in the country for the week. Cities like Austin, Houston, Dallas and Chicago all have higher average rates. When averaged across the cities Kastle tracks, national in-person workplace attendance ranged from 33% to 58% for Jan. 12-18, up 2.6% from the week before.

Still, employers don’t expect to reduce their real estate footprint in the city, and many are expecting in-person work to rise. In September, 54% of employers said they expect headcount to increase or stay the same over the next five years. 

Overall, real estate, law and financial services firms have the highest in-person workplace attendance. Real estate firms surveyed expect average daily attendance around 82% for the month of January, while law firms expect 63% and financial services firms expect 61%. 

Smaller firms are returning to the office more quickly, according to the survey. Companies with fewer than 500 employees anticipated 56% of  their workers back in the office on an average workday by January. For firms with more than 5,000 employees, daily office attendance is expected to rise to 50% by the end of January, up from 44% in September.

Article Sources
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  1. Partnership for New York City, "Return to Office Survey Results."
  2. New York Post, "Manhattan’s office occupancy shows signs of recovery."

  3. Kastle, "Getting America Back to Work."
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