Study Shows North American Offices Are Less Than A Quarter Full

A new report shows that U.S. organizations have the lowest average desk usage in the world, for an average of 1.05 days a week.

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The Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) Hybrid Working Index study of nearly 80 offices in 13 countries, representing nearly 80,000 employees, revealed that people in North America come into the office an average of just over one day a week, compared with 1.4 days globally.

As a result, North American offices are only a quarter full while having a lower average desk usage rate than offices in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America. The global study, conducted during June and July this year, found that in North America, on average, three quarters of desks are unused and just over a fifth of people are going into the office, with attendance dropping to just 7% on Fridays.

Globally, AWA’s survey revealed that that people are now going into the office just 1.4 days a week, versus nearly four days a week before the Covid-19 pandemic. In the U.S., workers come in for an average of just 1.05 days a week.

The study also found that if companies have no hybrid working policies in place, people come in on average less than one day a week. However, even if organizations insist people come in three days a week, the policy doesn’t work as attendance averages just 2.1 days a week.

“The results of this global survey show that employee work habits are shifting,” said Andrew Mawson, Managing Director of AWA. “The hybrid work genie is out of the bottle and organizations have a real opportunity to work with their employees to find smarter, more efficient ways of working and make better use of their real estate. We believe this will have a profound impact on the property market, which is not currently being recognized by the industry.”

Some key findings from the study include:
• Average attendance in offices is just 26%, with peaks in the middle of the week of no more than a third of employees in the office.
• On average two thirds of desks in offices are now unused on a daily basis, and even on the busiest days offices are more than half empty.
• As evidenced anecdotally – and by AWA’s 2021 survey of how people want to work – employees prefer to be in the office on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday – with 88% of people working from home on a Friday.

A panel of organizations participated with data from nearly 80 offices in 13 countries representing nearly 80,000 employees, completing a short survey detailing for each of their locations what (if any) hybrid policy they were enacting, the total number of employees and desks in each building, and how many people were using the office day to day in a typical week. The survey comprised nearly 10,000 respondents across nine offices in North America.

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