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North American workers go into the office less often than others worldwide

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Workers in North America are only going into the office for an average of 1.45 days per week, just below the global average of 1.75 days per week, according to an Aug. 14 report from AWA, an independent global workplace consultancy.

Office attendance in North America is at 29% per week on average, as compared with 32% in the U.K., 36% in Asia-Pacific and 43% in Latin America.

“In our experience, hybrid working changes everything from employment contracts, skills and recruitment strategies to workplace design, security and more,” Andrew Mawson, founder of AWA, said in a statement.

“While some have taken a ‘let’s see what happens’ approach to hybrid working since the end of the pandemic, we believe it’s now time for all organizations to develop holistic hybrid working policies and address a wide set of issues to prepare themselves for the future,” he said.

In the study of 120 workplaces across 22 countries, the global average for office attendance rose to 35%, up from 29% last year. In North America, there wasn’t a change from the year before, though the numbers increased slightly in the U.K., Latin America and Asia.

About 70% of offices in the study have less than 40% attendance, and only five offices have attendance rates above 60%. The largest shift in return-to-office rates has occurred in the technology sector, with 32% average attendance compared to 15% last year. Due to reduced demand, 37% of employers said they’re planning to improve desk utilization and reduce their office space through disposals, subletting or consolidation.

Workers continue to prefer to report to the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, although Monday attendance has gained ground, according to the report. On Fridays, less than a quarter of employers choose to travel to the office.

Overall, though, employees aren’t complying with employers’ directives to return to the office. About 46% of offices don’t have hybrid working policies, yet they see people show up at the office an average of 1.4 days per week, on par with companies that require attendance two days per week. At those that mandate three or four days of attendance, employees only show up two days per week.

“While there is a slight increase in office attendance, we believe it may have reached a steady state,” Mawson said. “Savvy employers are using the new reality to become more efficient, improving desk use and reducing their real estate needs. We expect this to result in a gradual build-up of empty office space over the next five to 10 years as leases expire, increasing the downward pressure on rents and asset values.”

Hybrid policies are expected to grow, according to an Infosys report, especially as new studies find that companies that embraced hybrid working in recent years are more likely to retain staff. In fact, C-suite and middle managers noted in the report that they plan to expand flexible or remote work arrangements.

These policies deeply matter to workers, too. Nearly half of workers say they’d quit if their company mandated a full-time return-to-office policy, according to a report by the Integrated Benefits Institute. Employees are craving flexibility, and those who have hybrid schedules are more likely to report the highest well-being ratings.

Simply put, many workers don’t see the point in going into the office for work, especially if they can complete their work from home and if the commute isn’t worth the trip, according to a survey by Executive Networks. Employers are increasing compensation and perks but also need to make coming into the office “more purposeful,” the report found, through initiatives such as in-person upskilling, mentorship and mental health programs.

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