Only 20% of DC-area office workers are back, and even that may be falling

In the Washington, D.C., area, Kastle Systems reports office occupancy of 20.2% on Nov. 11, down from 24.2% the same day last week.
In the Washington area, Kastle Systems reports an office occupancy of 20.2% on Nov. 11, down from 24.2% the same day last week. (Getty Images/iStockphoto/gpointstudio)

One straightforward way to see how many office workers are returning to the office for work is to simply count how many people are going into buildings, and by that measure, D.C.-area office buildings remain largely empty.

And surging cases of COVID-19 infections may have some people who’d previously decided to return to the office reversing course.

Falls Church, Virginia-based building security entry system company Kastle Systems has been keeping weekly track of key fob and key card entries at 3,600 office buildings covering 41,000 office workers nationwide for its Back to Work barometer. The company’s 10-city average says office occupancy as of Wednesday, Nov. 11, was 25.1%. That’s down from 27.1% the same day the previous week.

In the D.C. area, specifically, Kastle Systems reports an office occupancy of 20.2% on Nov. 11, down from 24.2% the same day last week.

It did not specify how many buildings throughout the D.C. metro it is tracking, though its security systems are used by hundreds of buildings throughout the region.


More Coronavirus News

Looking for more information? D.C., Maryland and Virginia are each releasing more data every day. Visit their official sites here: Virginia | Maryland | D.C.


The D.C. area, along with Chicago, had the largest week-over-week decline in office occupancy among the 10 biggest cities. Chicago fell to 16.2% Nov. 11, down from 20.4% the previous week.

The week-over-week change in office vacancy was lower in all 10 of the nation’s largest cities.

The New York metro had the lowest office occupancy by Kastle’s building entrance count on Nov. 11, at 13.1% That is down from 16.9% on Oct. 28. The occupancy rate is 13.6% in the San Francisco metro.

Dallas had the highest office occupancy rate on Nov. 11, at 40.6%, although that’s down from 41.2% last week.

Below is a snapshot of Kastle Systems’ most recent Back to Work Barometer for the 10 largest cities:

Click to see full size. (Courtesy Kastle Systems)

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