Texas Metros Lead in Office Return Rates

Workers in office
Workers in office setting | Image by PeopleImages.com - Yuri A/Shutterstock

American workers have been trickling back into the office since the COVID-19 pandemic lockdowns ended three years ago, but some cities have seen quicker returns than others.

Texas’ major metropolitan areas are witnessing a larger volume of workers returning to the office than other regions in the United States. Austin and Houston both achieved office occupancy rates of over 70% at least one day during the week ending on November 1, with Dallas trailing a bit behind at just over 59%, according to data from Kastle Systems. The company tracks the number of people coming into offices with key fobs and data swipes.

Meanwhile, a recent study conducted by the commercial property firm Transwestern showed that around 54% of North Texas office workers have resumed on-site work. Approximately 46% of employees are engaging in a “hybrid” work model, while a smaller segment of about 34% is fully committing to in-office work.

In Dallas-Fort Worth, on-site office jobs rose 20% above pre-pandemic levels. The pivot back to in-person office work is expected to rise by 108% by 2033. Andrew Matheny, research manager in Transwestern’s Dallas office, told The Dallas Morning News that dynamic was due to “long-term job growth” in the metroplex.

Still, Transwestern analysts noted that the Dallas-Fort Worth office market has faced several challenges as employers “right-size” their office spaces in light of hybrid and remote work trends, driving office vacancy rates in the third quarter of 2023 to reach just over 19%.

At the same time, not all office spaces are feeling the same strain. “Even with headwinds, ‘flight to quality’ continues creating bright spots of well-positioned properties outperforming the market,” a market report reads. This includes office spaces featuring attractive amenities, such as pickleball courts and coffee shops.

For this reason, office building projects continue, such as the long-awaited 30-story Bank of America Tower in Uptown Dallas that recently broke ground, as covered by The Dallas Express. The mixed-use development will include nearly 500,000 square feet of rentable office space and feature luxury amenities, such as a 12th-floor sky lobby and lounge, terraces, and a private fitness facility.

Still, other parts of the metroplex have enjoyed more economic activity and real estate development in recent years, as previously reported by The Dallas Express.

Unlike cities like Fort Worth, which has been a hotspot for development, Dallas has struggled to make itself a destination town for builders, in part due to the City’s commercial permit turnaround times under City Manager T.C. Broadnax.

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