Summer is winding down and the impending post-Labor Day period marks the fourth annual return-to-office tug of war. This round is expected to be the biggest test yet, with roughly a million workers facing RTO mandates by year’s end, according to research from real-estate consultancy JLL.

Despite the big push, it’s worth mentioning that only 39% of US companies are requiring full-time in-office attendance, down from 49% at the start of 2023. Historically, return-to-office mandates haven’t yielded much change in office utilization, with numbers hovering around 50% of US pre-pandemic levels.

So what can we expect this year?  As we’ve reported, flexibility reigns supreme and it should be the anticipated norm of the future. Roughly three-fifths of US companies now offer work flexibility, up from half at the start of 2023. And despite this year’s RTO push, Kastle occupancy data through July 2023 show that there had been no increase in office utilization year to date. Here are two more considerations:

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