Number of office workers hits new pandemic high

Number of office workers hits new pandemic high
© Greg Nash

Workers are returning to in-person workplaces at the highest rate since the COVID-19 pandemic began.

Data from a security company that monitors access-card swipes showed that 36 percent of the workforce was back in the office during the first week of October, The Wall Street Journal reported. 

But that figure, which marks a 5 percent increase since the week of Labor Day, is still well below what some people expected as more vaccines began to roll out.

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In June, Manhattan-area employers said they expected 62 percent of employees to be working from their offices by September, a lofty goal that the delta variant and increased infection rates quickly complicated, the Journal reported.

There are also some regional differences with returning to offices. For example, the Journal noted that Texas-cities like Austin, Dallas and Houston saw office return rates plateau in the high 40 percent range in September. The flattening rate could possibly reflect the state's relatively COVID-19 high infection rate and weather conditions during hurricane season.

Elsewhere, some companies are preparing to welcome employees back to the office throughout October. 

"There are things we can accomplish together in the office that we can’t do remotely," Lions Gate Entertainment Corp.'s Chief Executive Jon Feltheimer wrote in a message to employees announcing that the company would require employees alternate between coming to the office and remote work, according to the Journal.

However, as returns continue to increase, it is seemingly unlikely that offices will return to their pre-pandemic capacities as more companies look toward allowing employees to work from home indefinitely.

Amazon announced this week that it would permit many of its corporate and tech employees to telecommute to work indefinitely.

"We expect that there will be teams that continue working mostly remotely, others that will work some combination of remotely and in the office, and still others that will decide customers are best served having the team work mostly in the office," Amazon's CEO Andy Jassy said of the decision.