Return to Office Lagging – Faster for Real Estate Industry?

By Hope Walborn | June 7, 2024 | 2 min. read

Visits to office buildings remained 36.8% below 2019 levels in 2023, but were up 23.6% compared to 2022, according to a study by

With January 2019 being the baseline, office visits plummeted to an all-time low of -88.9% in April 2020 during the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. Since then, return-to-office numbers have slowly but steadily increased, with many fluctuations in the past few years. In January 2024, five years later, office visits were at -36.8%.

The fully in-person work week may be a thing of the past for the foreseeable future, but the hybrid schedule has taken off for many workers, especially schedules with in-person days mid-week. Compared to 2022, RTO rates in 2023 were:

  • 21.2% on Mondays
  • 27.0% on Tuesdays
  • 27.5% on Wednesdays
  • 27.9% on Thursdays
  • 17.2% on Fridays

Geographically, New York City and San Francisco lead the country in RTO numbers, with 31.5% and 31.1% recovery compared to 2019 respectively.

Notably, cities with larger shares of financial, insurance and real estate sector employees in their office trade areas may be seeing stronger office recovery. Cities like New York, Dallas and Miami, which all have higher shares of financial, insurance and real estate employees, have seen higher RTO rates. For comparison, the two most recovered and the two least recovered cities (compared to 2019) and their share of employees in financial, insurance and real estate sectors include:

  • Miami: 10.7% share of employees; -21.9% recovery
  • New York: 13.6% share of employees; -22.5% recovery
  • San Francisco: 8.9% share of employees; -55.1% recovery
  • Los Angeles: 7% share of employees; -45.3% recovery

Other key takeaways include:

  • High household income office employees are more likely to have access to remote and hybrid work schedules, but data suggests these workers are bouncing back to pre-COVID in-office levels.
  • High household income young singles appear most eager to work in person, followed by Gen Xers.

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