Office attendance has not declined in September, despite “work from home” guidance

Government advice to “work from home where you can” has flattened the growth in employees returning to their workplaces, but levels of occupation have not fallen significantly in the first week of tightened Coronavirus guidelines, smart buildings data from Metrikus shows.

The first two weeks of September saw a doubling in the number of employees within Metrikus’ sample working from offices, rising from 15% to 33% of the pre-lockdown peak. The upward trend slowed during the week of 14 September as speculation around the rising number of reported coronavirus infections began to dominate the news. The government’s announcement on Tuesday 22nd of guidance that workers should work from home where possible has contributed to further flattening, but attendance in offices remained at roughly 1/3 of pre-lockdown levels on Wednesday and Thursday. Friday 25th followed regular pattern of lower than average attendance, while on Monday 28th and Tuesday 29th occupation was back at 32.5% and 34% respectively.

Michael Grant, Chief Operations Officer at Metrikus, commented:

“This data suggests that a number of office-based companies and individuals have concluded that at least some portion of their work cannot be completed from home. While the occupancy of offices is still a long way below its normal level, our data shows that a significant number of workers remain in the office, either 5 days a week or trialling a mix of home and office work.

“Everybody is under huge pressure to balance the need to minimise the risk of catching or transmitting coronavirus, while ensuring business continuity to safeguard the economy. Metrikus’ smart buildings data allows employers and building owners to accurately visualise and measure the usage of their buildings, and optimise their Covid-security precautions, monitoring everything from the usage of individual rooms to the levels of interior air quality.”

Metrikus has sensors and software installed on behalf of a variety of owners and occupiers in large office buildings in major cities around the UK. The data for this study was collected from two sources: people counting sensors in the entrance lobbies of office buildings that give a baseline for the number of people in the building, and motion sensors within offices that give an indication activity by showing which spaces are used, for how long, and at what times of day. The sensors are not able to discern between individuals, preventing the tracking of employees. Metrikus saw daily entries across the buildings it monitors reach an aggregated peak of more than 41,000 in the months before the lockdown.

Metrikus’ data is linked to time, revealing that that office workers are arriving to work later to avoid the rush-hour peak and eating lunch in the office more frequently. They also show that meeting room occupation has risen, demonstrating that workers value the opportunities for collaborative working provided by the office and are focusing the time they do spend in offices on in-person meetings with colleagues.

Metrikus customers have access to rich data visualisations that place a huge amount of built environment information on an easy to understand dashboard. The smart buildings platform uses secure software and sensors that building owners and occupiers can use to gain up-to-the minute information on everything from energy usage and air quality to fault prediction and detection on vital equipment. Metrikus is built on secure open standards that allow it to gather data from any sensor, meaning that if a quantity can be measured, it can be incorporated into a building’s personalised dashboard.