Since the beginning of the pandemic, workplace traffic has seen its ups and downs. These waves have come from new variants of the virus, summer lulls, and holiday breaks. So far, 2022 has been no different.
But now, after two plus years, we’re able to notice patterns and trends in workplace data. So much so, that we can even begin to make predictions about what workplace foot traffic will look like in the back half of the year.
To understand trends in workplace traffic since the start of the pandemic, our data analytics team analyzed millions of employee and visitor sign-ins from over 14,000 locations across the globe. Then, we took what we’ve learned so far and forecasted what to expect over the next six months. Let’s dive into the patterns and predictions.
Omicron drove workplace traffic down 15%, but traffic is up 300% overall since the start of the pandemic
Although we are hopefully nearing the endemic phase, the Omicron variant still had a big impact on workplace foot traffic. Leading into the holidays, foot traffic tends to take an expected nose dive. In 2020, traffic dropped -55% from mid-November to the end of the year. 2021 saw a similar drop during that time period (-65%). Employees stayed home to spend time with their families—or booked that long-awaited holiday. However, the bounce back in the new year did not come as fast as anticipated.
With the Omicron variant lingering after the new year, we saw traffic dip -15% and it took longer for folks to make their way back on-site than in 2021. It took 10 weeks to rebound from holiday lows in 2022, compared to just 6 weeks in 2021. We have recently seen a rebound in May. Still, workplace foot traffic is up +300% overall since the start of the pandemic—and up +64% since the start of this year.
Enterprise companies are seeing 38% higher traffic than average
While overall workplace traffic is up +64% since the start of 2022, it appears that large enterprise organizations (with 1,500+ employees) are seeing more folks back on-site than others. Large and enterprise companies have seen +38% higher traffic growth since the start of this year.
Diving deeper, the strongest growth within large Enterprise companies is coming from the financial industry (+270% year to date (YTD)) and the IT industry (+129% YTD). These patterns are consistent with what we saw in 2021, according to our At Work report. Enterprise organizations saw larger gains in foot traffic last year (+110%) compared to those with fewer employees (+47% on average). And the highest growth came from the IT and financial industries last year as well.
On-site interviews are up 32% this year
Why is enterprise traffic growing faster than others? It’s not just because they have more employees. These companies are also seeing workplace visitors return in droves. Workplace foot traffic includes both employees and visitors going on-site.
Visitors traffic alone is up +43% so far this year. Enterprise companies are seeing higher growth rates–visitor traffic is up +51% YTD. One source of this increase in visitors comes from companies who are inviting candidates on-site to interview in person.
Since the start of 2022, on-site interview growth is up +32%. This is a +52% increase compared to last year which was only at +21% in the same period. Companies realize that they can use the workplace to attract top talent and provide a better candidate experience in-person. Plus, who isn’t getting tired of back-to-back Zoom interview panels?
We should still expect a summer lull
As we see in the patterns above, and as mentioned in a previous data insights article, workplace traffic will continue to come in waves. Not only do variants and holidays play a role in this, but seasonality plays a hand as well. As more employees plan summer vacations and time off to spend with their families, we should expect modest or potentially flat growth in workplace foot traffic through August.
Last year, foot traffic was down by -4% on average over the summer months. This year, we should expect a similar summer lull. 2022 has already seen slower growth when compared to last year. In fact, it took about 3x as long this year to reach pre-holiday peaks compared to 2021. We anticipate an accelerated fall rebound to round out the year.
Why does foot traffic this year seem to be slowing in momentum? Most likely because of the increased flexibility that remote and hybrid working provides. Plus, employees are burnt out and need a vacation! International travel is expected to surpass pre-pandemic levels by +11%. And even if you’re not planning to hop a flight to Greece this summer, more folks are able to work from home, spend time with their children while on summer break, and take advantage of the increased flexibility of hybrid work.
Workplace foot traffic should bounce back 30% over the next 6 months
Don’t let a summer lull worry you. In fact, when looking at the past five years of data, we see a similar pattern of a decrease in workplace foot traffic over the summer, starting on Memorial Day. But this always picks up by the fall. Based on our forecasts, we expect a +30% increase in weekly foot traffic over the next 6 months. This is on top of already record-high weekly foot traffic since the start of the pandemic.
The question is: what do you do with this information? Now is the time to prepare your workplace for fluctuating foot traffic. By investing in an employee scheduling solution, you can get an accurate view of your own workplace traffic and know how to plan for the weeks and months ahead. See how many people you expect on-site each day or week and plan your resources—like snacks, meals, desks, and meeting rooms—accordingly to save costs and reduce waste.
If your company already embraces hybrid work, consider hot desking software to make the most efficient use of your space. Whether your office is buzzing with employees or experiencing a quieter summer lull, you can ensure that everyone has the space they need to be productive in the office. And with data and insights into how employees use your space, you can make smarter decisions on how to optimize your workplace.
Want access to even more workplace data? Check out our At Work insights hub for a collection of surveys, reports, and proprietary data to inform the way you work.