What happens if employees actually return to the office?

  • Jacob Rowden
  • Many large companies have issued mandates for employees to return to the office on a hybrid basis after Labor Day.
  • Throughout the pandemic, many companies continued hiring at a rapid pace, while at the same time reducing their office footprint.
  • Although physical office occupancy remains low, tenants could face an interesting dilemma if/when mandates materialize: not having sufficient space to accommodate a full return to the office.
  • Most hybrid policies gravitate around employees returning on set days; for example, mandating Tuesdays and Thursdays be in the office. Organizations are attempting to foster “presence awareness” to ensure that full teams are physically in the office at the same time to facilitate collaboration. But will “midweek crowding” create an almost unthinkable problem: a shortage of available office space if/when employees return en masse? 
  • Based on current labor analytics, office space per white collar employee has never been lower. Much like a “short squeeze,” this dynamic could catch market participants off guard and force a swift change in market conditions.