Europe’s return to the office reaches post-pandemic high

More people are back in the office – but the outlook varies across Europe’s major cities

June 20, 2022
  • Alex Colpaert

Re-entry to European offices is at its highest point since the onset of the pandemic, according to JLL data. Based on the portfolios of JLL clients across Europe, re-entry estimates show office use back to around 70% of pre-pandemic levels.

However, it’s important to note that this does not mean that offices are occupied at max capacity for 70% of the working week. Peak usage sways significantly between Monday and Friday. Nevertheless, occupancy by employees is trending back towards a pre-pandemic normal.

Mobility data from Google shows a similar trend, with European cities moving well past the inactivity seen at the depth of the pandemic. Overall mobility in Europe is now down by just 27% when comparing the month of May with typical pre-pandemic levels.

The picture of course, varies considerably across Europe. Amsterdam, Milan and Paris are seeing the highest re-entry levels when comparted to pre-pandemic, while London and Dublin are among those with lower re-entry rates, according to JLL data. And Google’s data largely mirrors these trends, although a somewhat weaker re-entry is found in Paris. 

Why does this matter?

Crucially, rising re-entry rates is an encouraging factor for office leasing activity. As more people return to the office, data will inform companies on how hybrid working becomes a permanent element of their future of work strategies.

Many companies now feel able to make medium-term decisions about their space needs while others are closing in on this point. Together with other tailwinds to office demand, take-up will rise back toward its 10-year average level by 2024, JLL predicts – even despite continued uncertainty and other headwinds.

Whether the market mantra of “less space, better place” means a net reduction in total office take up over the long-term remains a moot point. However, for the best quality, prime space, it’s becoming clear that the direction is positive.