Below is a complimentary Demography Unplugged research note written by Hedgeye Demography analyst Neil Howe. Click here to learn more and subscribe.

Are Workers Returning to the Office?  - AdobeStock 339717328

The share of workers returning to the office has reached a pandemic-era high. But that high is still pretty low, with around 36% of those surveyed saying they’re back. (The Wall Street Journal)

NH: Since the pandemic began, we have written several NewsWires on remote vs. in-person working.

Our take: Many workers want to stay remote. And companies should be wary of forcing employees back into the office. (See “Younger Workers Embrace Telecommuting” and “The Looming Battle Over Remote Work.”)

Still, many journalists and executives predicted that large portions of the workforce would be in-person by fall 2021. A June survey of Manhattan executives by the Partnership of New York City estimated that 62% of workers would be in the office by September.

So were they right? It seems not. 

The share of workers returning to the office is still low. According to Kastle Systems' October analysis of office building access swipes in 10 major U.S. cities, only 36% of employees are back in their buildings.

While that’s a pandemic high, it still means a whopping two-thirds of workers are remote. The analysis also found that only 30% of NYC workers are back. 

Gallup has come to similar findings. It found that 67% of white-collar workers are remote at least part of the week. 

Are Workers Returning to the Office?  - Remote

Of course, many office re-openings were delayed due to the emergence of the delta variant. The question still remains whether employers will begin to push for in-person work as Covid-19 case numbers decline.

But one thing is still clear: Workers want to be home.

Gallup found that 91% of remote employees want to continue the practice after the pandemic ends.

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Neil Howe is a renowned authority on generations and social change in America. An acclaimed bestselling author and speaker, he is the nation's leading thinker on today's generations—who they are, what motivates them, and how they will shape America's future.

A historian, economist, and demographer, Howe is also a recognized authority on global aging, long-term fiscal policy, and migration. He is a senior associate to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington, D.C., where he helps direct the CSIS Global Aging Initiative.

Howe has written over a dozen books on generations, demographic change, and fiscal policy, many of them with William Strauss. Howe and Strauss' first book, Generations is a history of America told as a sequence of generational biographies. Vice President Al Gore called it "the most stimulating book on American history that I have ever read" and sent a copy to every member of Congress. Newt Gingrich called it "an intellectual tour de force." Of their book, The Fourth Turning, The Boston Globe wrote, "If Howe and Strauss are right, they will take their place among the great American prophets."

Howe and Strauss originally coined the term "Millennial Generation" in 1991, and wrote the pioneering book on this generation, Millennials Rising. His work has been featured frequently in the media, including USA Today, CNN, the New York Times, and CBS' 60 Minutes.

Previously, with Peter G. Peterson, Howe co-authored On Borrowed Time, a pioneering call for budgetary reform and The Graying of the Great Powers with Richard Jackson.

Howe received his B.A. at U.C. Berkeley and later earned graduate degrees in economics and history from Yale University.