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U.S. Having Harder Time Than Europe and Asia Getting Employees to Come into Work

CNBC reports office attendance in Europe and the Middle East is at 70% to 90% and around 80% to 110% in some Asian cities. In the U.S., that number remains at about 40% to 60% of pre-pandemic levels. CNBC asserts there are three major differences to account for the disparity in the U.S.

First, Americans are more likely to live in the suburbs with bigger homes. In such locations, working from home is appealing. In other countries, individuals may live in small apartments or with multiple generations of their families. In such cases, going into the office may be more welcome. 

Another factor is the U.S.'s lack of good public transit in most cities. Living affordably in New York and San Francisco, where public transportation is better, requires moving far away from the city, making commute times significant. Public transportation in major cities around the world tends to be easier to access and more reliable.

Lastly, CNBC believes the still tight labor market benefits workers in the U.S. Our jobless rate is much lower than the European Union's. American employers know it is difficult to get workers into the office and are trying all sorts of ways to entice them, reports the New York Times. One company's effort to make it fun for employees is a happy hour cart. Orchard's CEO says these kinds of rituals make the office a space where employees want to spend their time. On the other hand, employees want to see their teammates if they must come in. Achieving that requires employers to undertake a fair amount of coordination and require rigid policies. Employees often protest rigid schedules as they value flexibility. According to the Times, the best hybrid arrangements mix "the creativity of in-person collaboration [and] the ease and fluidity of working from home." Many employers are still struggling to achieve this balance.