Office vacancy figures have been rising across Europe, but ultimately, physical occupancy rates – the percentage of employees who show up each day – will determine how things pan out. It’s no good taking shiny new offices and paying top dollar for them if no one’s going to show up. Whether it’s managerial incompetence or employee stubbornness, office space will only be built and leased if people use it. That’s what makes a fresh data dump by Savills fascinating reading.
So does the fact that Prague plays a leading role: Europe-wide, the Czech capital boasts the largest increase in physical occupancy rates (16%) between June 2022 and February 2023 – all the way up to 54% — a 42% jump. Dublin came in second, rising 15% to 56%. Prague now ranks in the top 5 for office attendance. Not all days are created equal, of course. “In Prague, occupancy rates on Mondays (56%) were the second highest in the week,” says Savills’ Czech Senior Research Analyst Lenka Pechová. “Fridays remain quieter (49%), which can also be observed by traffic levels, however, the drop was not as dramatic as seen in the rest of Europe.”
It will surprise no one to learn that Tuesdays through Thursdays are the busiest days of the week (63%, 62%, 62%). The question now is how will the market adapt? “The intensity of office use is naturally increasing, but it is clear that we are far from pre-pandemic levels and it is not clear whether we will get there,” says Pavel Novák, Head of Office Agency at Savills CZ&SK. “This naturally plays into the hands of serviced office operators who are offering offices more on an actual usage basis.”
In February 2023, London West-End (50%), London City (48%) and Warsaw (46%) recorded the lowest office occupancy level, but still demonstrated a significant increase compared to last summer. Paris CBD (66%), Madrid (65%) and Stockholm (60%) lead the ‘return to the office’ in Europe where February´s occupancy figures are close to the pre-pandemic European average of 70%.
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