RTO rates continue to climb, but show signs of slowing down

March 2023 RTO data
April 17, 2023
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Return to Office

Every month that passes in 2023, more U.S. workers are returning to the office, but those numbers show signs of slowing down. That according to the utilization rates of dozens of Density customers.*

Since January, Density customers have seen utilization rates continue to climb:

  • Jan 2023: 16.9%
  • Feb 2023: 18.7%
  • March 2023: 19.4%

Pulling back further, this up-and-to-the-right trend has maintained (slowly, but surely) over the last two years.

The steady climb of return-to-office in the U.S. from Feb 2020 to March 2023
Return-to-office numbers have continued to climb since their low in 2020.

The 19.4% average utilization rate our customers saw in March is the most since before the pandemic shutdown.

It also marks a 50% increase from the same time last year.

March 2023 has seen the highest utilization rates since pre-pandemic.

One key factor at play is companies’ evolving relationship with remote work.

We are seeing more RTO and organized hybrid policies in effect. Companies like Meta, Salesforce, Disney, and dozens others are rethinking the role of the office.

Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg, for example, said early analysis of performance data “suggests that engineers who either joined Meta in-person and then transferred to remote or remained in-person performed better on average than people who joined remotely.”

That said, not every company has mandated RTO policies — certainly not in our customer base. In other words, many employees are willingly returning to the office.

RTO by U.S. regions hints at a new normal

Since January, the Midwest has experienced higher RTO numbers than the rest of the country.

  • West Coast: 21.4%
  • East Coast: 20%
  • Midwest: 24%
The Midwest has seen the highest utilization rates in 2023.
The Midwest has seen the highest utilization rates in 2023.

However, each region saw a smaller increase from February to March than from January to February (with the West Coast seeing less than 1% point increase).

This brings to mind research conducted by the Bay Area Council, which reveals that two-thirds of California-based companies think the utilization rates they see today (April 2023) represents their new normal.

As we continue to monitor and share the utilization rates of our customers, we may soon find out whether 20-24% is the new normal — and if so, where.

*Numbers are based on the average of the “hourly average utilization” at the floor level, between 8 am and 6 pm local time, Monday through Friday.