XY Sense Workplace Utilization Index

Explore new global research from XY Sense that shows how hybrid workplace policies are transforming office utilization. 


How hybrid workplace policies are transforming the world's offices

Welcome to The XY Sense Workplace Utilization Index, a quarterly report providing office utilization benchmarks and workplace occupancy trends for real estate and workplace teams. 

To create this index, our team has aggregated and analyzed anonymous space utilization data from XY Sense’s global network of enterprise workplace sensors to provide new insights into how hybrid workplace policies are revolutionizing where and how we work. 

In this report series, we compare the rate at which workers are returning to offices in different geographies and explore the very real impact that hybrid (a.k.a. flexible) workplace policies are having on commercial real estate utilization, workplace design and strategy.

So, what does XY Sense data reveal about office life and commercial real estate strategy in 2023?

Download the latest report to find out.




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How busy are offices globally?

This Q3 2023 edition of the XY Sense Workplace Utilization Index showed global workplace utilization at 27% – about half the pre-pandemic level. 

While return-to-office mandates from major global companies were widely publicized across Q3 2023, XY Sense data showed no material change in workplace utilization compared to the previous quarter. 

Key findings from Q3 2023:

  • Global workplace utilization dropped modestly and temporarily in Q3 to an average of 27% – down from Q2’s 30%.
  • Our analysis shows that this decrease was likely driven by the seasonal increase in workers taking holidays, especially in European markets. Additionally, many markets had multiple national holidays during the quarter, lowering overall average utilization.
  • In September, occupancy rates largely recovered from August lows.
  • Even with recent gains, office utilization remains in a steady state at 50% pre-pandemic levels.

Which country has the highest
office utilization?

The UK continues to lead the world in office utilization, with a rate more than twice as high as the US and almost 60% higher than APAC. While the 43% rate represents a decline versus Q2, we believe this drop was driven principally by the large number of UK workers who took vacations in August. Our weekly tracking shows a rebound in September – to the highest utilization levels in the quarter. 

APAC occupancy, which averaged 27%, was also impacted by vacations and public holidays, with the most significant drops in September when there were major holidays in several countries. We expect the region to recover to Q1 and Q2 levels in Q4. 

The US showed the lowest utilization across the tracked regions, again averaging 21%. The US has shown the lowest utilization rates of all tracked regions since we began issuing quarterly WUI reports earlier this year.  These comparatively low figures have driven much speculation among workplace leaders and reporters. Analysts credit longer commute times in the US, the lower availability of public transit, larger homes/space for home offices, and a tight labor market that makes companies less likely to enforce workplace attendance policies rigidly.

Key findings from Q3 2023:

  • UK offices had the highest reported utilization in Q3 – averaging 43%. That is 205% of the US utilization rate and 59% higher than APAC.
  • The APAC region came in second, at 27%.
  • US office utilization trails the other tracked regions at 21%. 

The hybrid work week

As in previous WUI reports, workplace utilization varied significantly by day of the week, with midweek utilization levels significantly higher than those for Monday and Friday. In Q3, the utilization level was highest on Tuesday, at 34%, with Wednesday and Thursday at 32% and 31%, respectively.

Key findings from Q3 2023:

  • Global office utilization rates continue to be highest midweek, with Mondays and especially Fridays showing far lower workplace utilization
  • In Q3, Tuesdays were the highest utilization day for offices globally, at 34%. Wednesday and Thursday showed utilization rates of 31% and 32%, respectively.
  • Even though many of the national holidays that impacted overall utilization levels in Q3 occurred on Mondays, especially in the US, Friday remains by far the lowest occupancy day.

Q3 Desk utilization trends

When we picture offices, most of us imagine large numbers of occupied desks. But XY Sense data shows that in Q3, 31% of personal workstations were never used, continuing a pattern we also saw in Q2.

A further 21% are used for less than one hour per day. 

Key findings from Q3 2023:

  • Half of the desks in offices are utilized for less than one hour per day. Globally, 31% of individual workpoints/desks are never used, and a further 21% are used for less than one hour per day. 
  • Just 30% of individual workstations are utilized more than 3 hours per day.
  • Enclosed offices show 18% higher utilization than unenclosed workpoints, 33% versus 26%. They are also used for 24% more time each day (2.6 hours v. 2.1).

Desks vs. Meeting Rooms

Utilization rates for collaboration workspaces (meeting rooms, project spaces, breakout spaces) were higher than for individual workspaces (personal workpoints and enclosed offices). 

Average utilization was 32% for collaborative spaces, flat from Q2. Individual workpoint utilization was 26%, a decline of 14% versus Q2.

Key findings from Q3 2023:

  • Collaboration space utilization (encompassing conference rooms, project areas, and breakout spaces) was 32% for Q3.
  • Personal workspace (workpoints, offices) utilization was 26% for Q3, 23% lower than collaboration space utilization.
  • While collaborative space utilization was flat versus Q2, personal workspace utilization dropped 14%, a reflection of the large number of workers that took vacations in Q3.
  • Average hours per day of collaborative workspace utilization was 2.8, 33% higher than for personal workspace (2.1 hours).

When comparing space type utilization at a regional level, we noted: 

  • In every region (except the UK) office workers are more likely to utilize a collaboration space or meeting room when in the office vs. a desk. This illustrates the changing nature of office work and the need to rethink office floorpans overwhelmingly devoted to desks.
  • Desks are in highest demand in the UK, with an average utilization rate of 46%. UK office workers utilized desks at 2X the rate of US counterparts.
  • US workers more likely to utilize a collaboration space or meeting room when in the office vs. a desk. They also spend ~19% more time in meetings vs. UK, with each collaboration space averaging 2.4 hours of occupation per day. On par with APAC.

Popular Spaces

Enclosed meeting rooms are the most preferred collaboration space type. These spaces were used 50% of the time in Q3, 257% higher than the utilization level for Breakout Space and Project Spaces (14%). 

Enclosed meeting rooms and offices were also utilized for more hours than other meeting space types. Enclosed meeting rooms were utilized for an average of 2.5 hours per day, 38% more than Project Spaces (1.8 hours) and 92% more than breakout areas (1.3 hours).

Key findings from Q3 2023:

  • The most popular meeting spaces are enclosed meeting rooms. Both utilization rates and average hours of utilization are much higher for enclosed meeting spaces than open collaboration areas. Our data show 50% utilization for enclosed meeting rooms versus 14% for project areas and breakout spaces. 
  • Enclosed spaces are preferred because of a desire for greater privacy, information security, and access to conferencing and video meeting capabilities.
  • Data show that meeting rooms often have far higher capacity than the actual number of people meeting in those spaces. This is prompting some companies to subdivide existing meeting rooms to create more available meeting spaces.

Explore the full Q3 report!

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Explore how this data is collected

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Watch a demo of XY Sense working live in a real office environment to see how we collect data on office utilization.

When it comes to our real-time accuracy, seeing is believing!

We’re proud to be the market leader when it comes to both the coverage range and real-time precision of our occupancy sensor solution. See how XY Sense can detect human occupancy in a space and position 100% anonymous ‘X and Y’ coordinates of people to within one foot of accuracy, in real-time. XY Sense also tracks entry and exit counts for spaces like meeting rooms, providing you with real-time people counting insights for each space.

All of this highly accurate real-time data feeds into our workplace insights platform, which aggregates across time and gives teams powerful insights into how much space and what types of space their employees need.

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Explore all editions of the Workplace Utilization Index

Q1' 2023

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Q2' 2023

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LATEST - Q3' 2023

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