Office occupancy peaks at 87 per cent as “Back to school” effect drives return to workplaces, says Metrikus

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Office occupancy has reached its highest level since March 2020 in the first weeks of August, according to new data released by the smart buildings software platform Metrikus.

The weekly median for the week following the Bank Holiday on 30 August hit 70 per cent and Monday, 6 August recorded a new high of 87 per cent of Metrikus’ pre-lockdown baseline.
Friday is the least popular day of the week to travel into the office, with data showing that Friday attendance hovers at around two thirds of the weekly median. Mondays also fall below the median, with the remaining days of the week closely grouped, suggesting that employees are taking advantage of the “three on, two off” model for hybrid working.
Metrikus is a software platform that has tracked levels of occupancy in UK offices throughout the coronavirus pandemic in the UK using IoT sensors. Encompassing all of the systems of a building down to individual desk level, employers and building owners are using this data to validate lessons learnt over the past year and meet the changing expectations of their staff and occupiers.
Metrikus COO Michael Grant says: “The beginning of September has produced a dramatic change in town centres, but we also understand that the impact of Coviud on offices will be profound and long-lasting. The return to city centre offices isn’t universal, and employees’ readiness to return is influenced by a number of factors. Our intuition is that the forecasters who have been predicting a split in the market are correct, with high quality buildings in good locations performing well, and assets at the other end of the market coming into trouble.

“We saw evidence last week that BREEAM outstanding buildings command a substantial premium in rent over their lower-ranked peers. The heatwave in July led to anecdotal reports of overheated homeworkers taking refuge in air-conditioned offices. This leads to the conclusion that where offices are of a high quality, with steps taken to promote wellbeing, collaboration, productivity and the work-life balance, we will find that staff are more enthusiastic about returning to the workplace.

“Throughout the pandemic our message to employers has been ‘what are your offices offering workers that they can’t get at home?’. Features like indoor air quality, wellbeing and a focused space that caters to different workstyles are the new “must haves” for successful workplaces and a smart building platform like Metrikus places actionable insights with a very granular level of detail in the hands for property managers so that they can optimise their spaces.”

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