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Midwest workers lead the way on return to the office

Written on Aug 18, 2023

Workers in the Midwest are coming into offices more often than in the rest of the country, new research shows. 

The region’s offices posted a 60% weekly average peak occupancy rate in the first half of the year, the highest in the nation by far, according to data from, a workplace-occupancy analytics company. 

The Northeast averaged just 24% peak occupancy over the same period. Midwestern offices also enjoyed more frequent visits compared with the rest of the US, with a greater share of people coming in four or five days a week. calculates occupancy rates as a share of building capacity, as opposed to other workplace data providers who track attendance compared with a pre-pandemic baseline. 

The resiliency of remote work risks wiping $800 billion from the value of office buildings in major cities around the world by 2030, a recent report from McKinsey Global Institute found. In New York, declines in attendance could drive down the value of the city's office space by 16% over that time period, and by 20% in San Francisco. 

The numbers suggest workers in the Midwest either have more stringent return-to-office policies, easier commutes that allow for higher office attendance throughout the week, or a combination of the two. The data align with prior results from Stanford University data which found that work-from-home rates are lower in smaller cities and towns compared with America’s biggest metro areas like New York. Big-city commutes can be long, and those places also have a greater share of white-collar jobs that can be done remotely. 

Researchers added that Midwestern cities are typically more compact that those in other regions like Washington and Dallas that are more spread out, with more suburban sprawl that could reduce office visits. 

The report, which collected data from 121 offices worldwide, also showed that the traditional 9-to-5 office day is much less common nowadays. In the Midwest, South and West, only about half of office visits lasted six or more hours. About a quarter of visits across all regions of the U.S. were between three and six hours, showing that many workers are either coming in just for a few meetings, or shortening their time spent in the office so they can get back home for caregiving duties. 

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