Americans Eschewing the Office Even as Omicron Fades
New York, NY, February 15, 2022-Americans are dining again in restaurants, attending sporting events, and flying throughout the country. But most are still steering clear of their office building, a sign that more than health concerns are keeping workers away, reports the Wall Street Journal.
“Millions of office employees who fled business districts in December after the Omicron variant surged continue to work at home, despite the plummeting rate of Covid-19 infections and hospitalizations. Remote work remains the more popular option even as a number of states have announced plans to roll back mask requirements at indoor venues, businesses, and schools as the spread of the Omicron variant fades.
“Thousands of companies that closed their offices in March 2020 have yet to announce return plans. An average of 33% of the workforce returned to the office during the first week of February in the ten major cities monitored by Kastle Systems, which records building-access-card swipes.
“The number has been slowly rising from 23% during the first week in January, when even companies that had brought back workers were sending them home because of renewed health risks. The office return rate for the second week of February fell slightly from the first week, Kastle said late Monday.
“That rate is still well off the high of 41% in the first week of December, before the full force of the Omicron variant hit. That is true even in cities like New York, where the infection rate is closing in on the level it was at before Omicron.
“Meanwhile, the return rate to movie theaters in the first week of February was 58% of what it was before the pandemic, according to a Kastle analysis of industry statistics. Restaurants were nearly three-quarters as full as they were before Covid-19, and air travel had recovered to about 80%. Attendance at National Basketball Association games was 93% of what it was in February 2020, Kastle said.
“‘There’s a huge divergence between the ways that people are coming together in the other parts of their lives and the way they aren’t in the office,’ said Mark Ein, Kastle Systems chairman.”