Spring 2022 Return to Work Update
March 8, 2022
Current estimates in DowntownFTL show that about 50% to 55% of office workers are back in-person compared to pre-pandemic levels, about 20-points better than the national average.
Over the summer the average of all Class A buildings surveyed was at around 40% to 45%. This remained consistent through the end of the year due to the prevalence of the Omicron variant.
Impact on DowntownFTL.
DowntownFTL and the South Florida region are leading the way on employees returning to the office. DowntownFTL is not experiencing the same challenges caused by hybrid work as most U.S. downtowns.
Local property managers are expecting the DowntownFTL average to continue to rise over the next several months, reaching a ceiling of up to 75%. In this scenario, hybrid and remote work will remain popular.
Impacts of hybrid work are offset by strong residential growth, employment growth, and tourism activity. The DowntownFTL population has increased by 19% since 2019 (about 3,000 residents). Professional services jobs are up 17% since 2019. Hospitality and leisure jobs have increased by 12% over the same period.
According to Visit Lauderdale (based on data provided by OpenTable), daily seating levels at Fort Lauderdale restaurants are 24% above pre-pandemic levels. This is combined with the State of Florida announcing two consecutive quarters of visitation above pre-pandemic levels.
The recent consensus is that downtown office workers will not be going back to the office five days per week. Recent projections are that U.S. workers will spend about 25% of their time working at home over the next decade, a 20-point increase compared to what was normal pre-pandemic. This is aligned with decisions made by large Fort Lauderdale based employers.
From The Atlantic, The Five-Day Workweek Is Dying: “Office occupancy has plummeted, but corporate demand for office space is down only about 1 percent” … “that might sound shocking, but it’s because so many companies planning for hybrid work are expecting most of the office to be in on some days of the week, so they can’t shrink their space.”