New study claims people who can work remotely come into the office for less than two days a week

A global study of 220 offices in 33 countries, representing nearly 250,000 employees, has revealed that hybrid working is becoming established as the norm for those who can work remotely. Those people now come into the office an average of just 1.5 days a week, versus nearly four days a week before the Covid-19 pandemic. AWA’s second Hybrid Working Index study, conducted between September and November this year, found that on average people go into the office 29 percent of the time. Among employers surveyed in both the first study, in the summer, and this one, attendance was steady at around 25 percent.

The study suggests that desks are now used 37 percent of the time, which the authors claim indicates that employers are becoming smarter about the use of office space. Among those surveyed in both studies, there is a marked increase in desk use, rising from 31 percent to 37 percent. However, despite this improved efficiency, over half of desks lie empty on even the busiest days.

Andrew Mawson, managing director of AWA, said: “This comprehensive study shows that not only is hybrid working now the norm, but that employers are adapting to this reality to become more efficient in their use of office space. The implications for developers of office space and the inner cities where most of these offices are located are seismic, and planners will have to rethink how they use buildings in the centre of towns and cities in the future.”

The survey also found that more than half of employers now have hybrid working practices. Nearly 28 percent of employers have practices that vary by team, while 27 percent insist on people coming in either two or three day a week. Less than 3 percent of employees are forced to come into the office every day.

Andrew Mawson added: “Our study shows that employees respond best to being treated like adults in how they manage their time, that the old command-and-control days are over and employers realise that a happy workforce working flexibly is the best way forward.”

The other key findings are:

  • Employees in the EU attend the office least, with an average attendance of just 1.15 days a week. UK and North America are broadly similar at 1.4 days per week, while in the Asia Pacific region workers come in 1.55 days a week and 1.65 days in Latin America;
  • Desk use is best in Latin America – with 49 percent of desks being used. The increased space sharing culture reflected in the desk provision in Latin America and UK where there are 63 desks per head of population compared to 97 in Europe and 92 in the North America;
  • Not-for-profit organisations had the lowest office attendance, with people coming in less than one day a week, while in tech people come in just one day a week. In media, healthcare and pharma attendance was 1.3 days a week and financial services 1.3 days. In the property sector people still come in over four days a week;
  • The largest group studied was from the UK, with 79 offices representing nearly 107,000 people responding. It showed people came into the office an average of 28 percent of the time (1.4 days), peak occupancy was just 36 percent on Wednesdays, dropping to just 18 percent on a Friday.

The study comprised data from more than 220 offices in 33 countries, representing nearly 250,000 employees. A panel of organisations completed 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.

AWA used this information to create a detailed picture of office use across multiple sectors and geographies. AWA will return to and expand this panel on a regular basis to build the most authoritative analysis of hybrid working around the world.