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UK Office Occupancy Keeps Lifting to New Post-Lockdown High

over 1 year ago

UK Office Occupancy Keeps Lifting to New Post-Lockdown High

Office occupancy rates in the UK have improved in the past week to chalk up a new high since the end of the national lockdowns.

The national average for the week ended 10 February came in at 35.3%, according to research published by Remit Consulting, which has become a key resource for charting how businesses are returning to workplaces after the COVID-19 lockdowns forced widespread working from home.

Lorna Landells of Remit said that excluding weekly fluctuations, there has been a steady increase in the number of office-based staff returning to the workplace on a daily basis over the past 12 months. She says in 2023 this gradual increase has continued, albeit with lower figures on certain days caused by the impact of industrial action, particularly the train strikes. Landells points out that the latest strong figures were from what "could be considered to be a regular week without any major disruptions".

As is now usual, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday were the busiest days, with a national average of over 40% occupancy on all three days.

In London, the Docklands submarket, with a weekly average of 53.9%, once again outperformed the West End which had a weekly average occupancy rate of 43.9% last week.

As the topic of how offices will be occupied in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic has developed, some industry commentators have suggested that, due to holidays, external meetings, staff sickness and other operational issues, offices were only ever 60-80% "full" before the pandemic.

Market practitioners suggest a figure of between 70% and 80% at peak times in the calendar, although this will have varied widely according to individual buildings and businesses.

Figures in 2023 have shown a fall in employers advertising remote-only jobs while a CBRE global survey this week reported on how the benefits of hybrid working are becoming quantifiable for workers and employers.

The Return Report is compiled by Remit Consulting weekly and is based on data provided by building managers from office buildings in major cities around the UK, many in central and prime locations. The data is obtained from the buildings’ access control systems, providing an overview of the number of staff and visitors entering a property on weekdays. This is presented as a percentage of the capacity of each building.

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