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Office Numbers Remain Flat While Employers Push for Greater Return to the Office

A Stanford professor who leads the WFH Research group says flexible work arrangements are the new normal. He asserted the data is “flat as a pancake” in that employees are “not heading into the office” and “not heading out either.” Office occupancy remains at the 45% to 50% level. Nick Bloom foresees the post-Labor Day official line to return to the office this year, like previous post-pandemic years, will not move. Bloom doubts material change is on the horizon.

Meanwhile, several employers continue to push for a greater return to the office. Goldman Sachs is particularly frustrated. It wants employees back five days a week, but senior managers reportedly have yet to be successful in getting their staff back in. Citigroup Inc. and JPMorgan Chase are tracking attendance and encouraging managers to enforce the three-day-a-week minimum. Citigroup is ready to impose consequences for employees not meeting the minimum. Facebook has a September 5 deadline for employees to appear at least three days a week. If they don't, Facebook may terminate their employment. Managers have to track attendance to make sure employees are complying.

Bloom asserts that well-organized hybrid schedules do work. He said workers "prefer carrying out administrative tasks and independent work that calls for deep thinking at home, while the office is the clear favorite for collaborative, creative work. Ideally, a company that's insistent on fostering an in-person community can clearly denote office days for given teams."