Cushman & Wakefield’s research team has examined the question of how office attendance varied over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Their findings: At the very beginning of the pandemic, attendance fell by around 60 %, however it recovered to about three-quarters of the pre-pandemic average – prior to the onset of the fourth wave. During the crisis, people tend to arrive earlier in the morning, are mainly in the office on Tuesday to Thursday and often work from home on Friday.
The study analyses movement information collected by PlaceSense External Link from anonymised and location data from smartphone apps of consenting users. Attendance in 15 selected office districts in the top-5 markets – including the Lyoner Quartier in Frankfurt, Parkstadt-Schwabing in Munich and City Nord in Hamburg - was recorded and an attendance index calculated. This covers a period of a good 2.5 years from April 2019 to November 2021, with the index value of 100 representing the average of the pre-Covid period.
Helge Zahrnt, Head of Research & Insight Germany at Cushman & Wakefield, explains: "The attendance shares shift forward in time during the Covid period. They fall off more quickly in the afternoon. This means workers are arriving at and leaving the office earlier in the day during the pandemic than they were previously."
Differences are also apparent when looking at the individual days of the week. The attendance rate on a Friday during the pandemic is lower than pre-pandemic. On the other hand, the percentages on the other days of the week are higher. With only slight differences, Tuesday and Wednesday are the highest attendance weekdays. Monday and Friday are thus the most popular days for working from home.
The restrictions associated with the Covid-19 pandemic led to a significant decrease in office attendance from March 2020. After a revival in summer 2020, the second and third waves also mirror each other. Since early summer 2021, a slow recovery in attendance was discernible; at the beginning of November, attendance was still around 25 % below the pre-Covid average.
Zahrnt continues: "The situation at individual companies can vary greatly: From significantly increased use of remote working to almost the entire workforce back in the office. In the light of the currently raging fourth wave and the renewed increase in remote working, a decrease in attendance is expected over the coming weeks."