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Remote-Work Movement Changing Downtown Atmospheres

With office-occupancy rates below 60 percent in many cities, there are fewer dining, entertainment, and other service options than before Covid. Should planners add this factor to their site-selection research?

For meetings that take place over a Monday or a Friday in a first- or second-tier city, planners might want to consider hosting an on-site evening event rather than scheduling a free night for attendees to roam around the host city.

The reason? Even in larger cities, many bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues tend to close earlier on Mondays—or not open at all—while using smaller staffs on Fridays, according to this article from Bloomberg.

Here's why: Weekly office-occupancy rates, as measured by security-badge swipes, are not even 60 percent in most U.S cities; New York is at 46 percent, says this Wall Street Journal article. Further, “office occupancy rates have moved sideways for the past six months, and with hybrid-work models now well established, a 50-percent occupancy rate may be the new permanent level in most metropolitan areas,” according to Torsten Slok, chief economist at Apollo Academy, a financial-market research organization.

In fact, the percentage of employers requiring workers to be in the office five days per week dropped from 49 percent in January to just 42 percent in April, according to Scoop Technologies, which has an index for monitoring workplace strategies at about 4,500 companies nationwide.

The most common days for people to work at home? Mondays and Fridays, which has led many dining and entertainment establishments to reduce staff and hours on those days. Even smaller cities, like the one featured in this article, are struggling to adapt their social offerings in light of the office-occupancy shift.

For meeting planners, then, investigating the liveliness of the district surrounding a host venue could be another task that belongs on their site-selection checklist.



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