Where the fight for a return to the office is over and the office won

Gabe Tucker, 26, is a lawyer at Fortif Law Partners in Birmingham, where the share of job postings that allow remote working is about half that of New York. Every morning, Mr. Tucker puts on a button-up shirt, drives 15 minutes, and arrives at the office around 8 a.m. In other words, his routine remains identical to the one he had before the start of the pandemic (with the exception of no longer having to wear a tie). In the evenings, he and his colleagues sometimes raise a toast to celebrate the conclusion of a deal. They have been back in the office since June 2020, with masks and other Covid precautions.

“It’s a normal job, pretty much,” Mr. Tucker said. “We struggled to work remotely. We all love being with each other.

San Francisco office occupancy is at 39% of its pre-pandemic level and New York’s at 41%, according to data from building security firm Kastle. Austin, Texas, meanwhile, is nearly 60%. Then there’s the Huntington Center, a 37-story office tower in downtown Columbus, which now has about 85% of its pre-pandemic occupants on site at any given time of the week, according to Hines, the company that manages building.

Traci Martinez, the office managing partner of Squire Patton Boggs, a law firm with offices on the 20th floor of the Huntington Center, said someone from San Francisco might walk into her office and marvel at the buzz .

“They would come into our building and be like, ‘Wow, that’s just normal,'” Ms Martinez, 45, said.

She has an overview of the disparities in returns to the office nationwide. She coordinates with the heads of the company’s many offices and has found that her Ohio locations have filled up faster than many others, especially the Washington, DC location.


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