Guest Post by Andrew Mawson, Managing Director of Advanced Workplace Associates

A global study of nearly 80 offices in 13 countries, representing nearly 80,000 employees, has revealed that people in North America come into the office an average of just over one day a week, compared with 1.4 days globally.

As a result, North American offices are only a quarter full while having a lower average desk usage rate than offices in Europe, Asia-Pacific, and Latin America.  

The Advanced Workplace Associates (AWA) Hybrid Working Index study, conducted during June and July this year, found that in North America, on average, three quarters of desks are unused and just over a fifth of people are going into the office, with attendance dropping to just 7% on Fridays. 

Globally, AWA’s survey revealed that that people are now going into the office just 1.4 days a week, versus nearly four days a week before the Covid-19 pandemic. In the US, workers come in for an average of just 1.05 days a week.

The study also found that if companies have no hybrid working policies in place, people come in on average less than one day a week. However, even if organizations insist people come in three days a week, the policy doesn’t work as attendance averages just 2.1 days a week.

The results of this global survey show that employee work habits are shifting. The hybrid work genie is out of the bottle and organizations have a real opportunity to work with their employees to find smarter, more efficient ways of working and make better use of their real estate. 

This will have a profound impact on the property market, which is not currently being recognized by the industry.

Key global findings from the study include:

  • Average attendance in offices is just 26%, with peaks in the middle of the week of no more than a third of employees in the office;
  • On average two thirds of desks in offices are now unused on a daily basis, and even on the busiest days offices are more than half empty;
  • As evidenced anecdotally – and by AWA’s 2021 survey of how people want to work – employees prefer to be in the office on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday – with 88% of people working from home on a Friday; 
  • People are not complying with their organizations’ Hybrid Working policies. Where organizations have stated two, two/three or three days in the office policies, attendance is respectively 1.1 days in the office, 1.6 days in the office and 2.1 days in the office. But where an employer trusts individual teams to make their own decisions about office attendance the average is 2.0 days in the office.

A panel of organizations participated with data from nearly 80 offices in 13 countries representing nearly 80,000 employees, completing a short survey detailing for each of their locations what (if any) hybrid policy they were enacting, the total number of employees and desks in each building, and how many people were using the office day to day in a typical week.

The survey comprised nearly 10,000 respondents across nine offices in North America.  We used this this information to create a detailed picture of office use across multiple sectors and geographies. AWA aims to return to and expand this panel on a regular basis to build the most authoritative analysis of hybrid working around the world.

Andrew Mawson is managing Director of Advanced Workplace Associates