Return to Office Numbers in Bay Area Lag Behind Other Regions, Activities

NBC Universal, Inc.

More workers are making a return to the office, but the numbers are still far below pre-pandemic levels, especially in the Bay Area, according to one expert tracking the data.

Mark Ein, chairman of commercial real estate security provider Kastle Systems, says the company serves about 3,000 buildings with more than 40,000 businesses.

Shortly after the COVID-19 pandemic began, Kastle started tracking building occupancy, and some of the key takeaways from the data are as follows:

  • Office utilization has increased about 50% year to date.
  • When you compare people going back to the office to other activities in life where they come together, such as sporting events, theater or air travel (which are almost all near pre pandemic levels) the offices are significantly lagging behind.
  • The Bay Area has been the region with the lowest office utilization since the very beginning.

Ein says the national building occupancy average is around 44%, and San Francisco and San Jose are around 34%. Those statistics have remained consistent throughout the pandemic, he says.

"I think part of that is a huge amount of tech companies in that economy had those companies better prepared already, even before the pandemic, with having people work remotely," Ein said. "So they had the technology and systems in place, and it's an attitude that has been embraced long before other people have."

Ein says Kastle plans to permanently share its building occupancy data moving forward because other industries have found value in it.

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