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How many workers are actually filing into offices? This weekly report offers a glimpse

Data tracked by security firm Kastle systems shows a snapshot of office attendance across 10 major metro areas.
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· 3 min read

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For anyone curious about whether the Elon Musks of the world are winning the roiling RTO debate, there’s this workplace occupancy barometer, a weekly metric of office attendance in 10 major US metro areas, compiled by the security research firm Kastle Systems. At a glance, it shows an approximation of how many workers are actually filing into offices and could help you, the savvy HR professional tasked with devising RTO policies that don’t lead to employee turnover, cut through the noise using hard data as your machete.

How does it work? Kastle’s website explains that it tracks data generated from the “KastlePresence app, keycard, and fob usage in the 2,600 buildings and 41,000 businesses we secure across 47 states.” To compile its weekly report, the company’s focus is more narrow, tracking how often its products are used to enter office office buildings in Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Austin, Washington, DC, San Jose, New York, Dallas, and Philadelphia.

The week of June 1, office attendance in these metros was at 41.2%, down from 43.4% the week of May 11. It isn’t a complete snapshot, of course, since it only cites access to buildings granted by Kastle products. But it could help you gauge where your organization’s RTO policy stands in relation to others in your area. As you’re likely aware, RTO plans writ large are a mess and have been a mess for quite some time. Here’s where things stand currently:

The debate rages on

  • Earlier this month, Musk issued a mandatory in-office attendance policy for “everyone at Tesla,” according to leaked emails he sent to the company’s executive staff. The news prompted a firestorm of both criticism and support for the world’s richest man.
  • Last month, Apple delayed its policy of mandatory office attendance at least three times a week for workers at its corporate headquarters, citing a rise in Covid-19 cases in the Bay Area.
  • Some companies are scaling back RTO plans in light of soaring gas prices. “We are seeing many organizations start to take a step back in light of a very dramatic and rampant spike in gas prices,” Mercer workplace expert Ravin Jesuthasan told CBS News in April.
  • Still, some corporate leaders are steadfast in their support of in-office attendance. Tom Siebel, CEO of the AI firm C3 AI, instituted mandatory attendance last June. He recently told the New York Times: “For people who want to work at home on Zoom, there’s companies that are like that,” he said. “Go work for Facebook. Go work for Salesforce.”

Bottom line. The office remains at an impasse, and the dilemma doesn’t seem to be fading away for workers and their employers anytime soon. Ultimately, it might take more than Lizzo to coax workers back to their desks.SB

Do you work in HR or have information about your HR department we should know? Email [email protected] or DM @SammBlum on Twitter. For completely confidential conversations, ask Sam for his number on Signal.

HR is challenging. HR news doesn’t have to be.

HR Brew keeps you effective in the fast-changing business environment.