San Francisco is having the hardest time of all major US cities getting employees to return to the office. The office utilization rate in San Francisco is just 39.2%, the lowest of the 10 biggest metros in the United States. There is 25 million square feet of office space available for lease or sublease. And 24% of office space sits empty, a shocking 554% increase since the end of 2019.
London Breed, the Mayor of San Francisco, even put together a “Welcome Back to SF” pledge for major San Francisco employers to get employees back to the office in March of 2022. All efforts have fallen short as more and more people choose to work from home and/or move out of San Francisco, and companies go fully remote and cancel office leases outright.
Here is everything you need to know about San Francisco’s current state of returning to the office: office utilization statistics, office vacancy statistics, RTO plans for the five biggest employers, notable companies cancelling office space, and sentiment about RTO from city officials.
San Francisco’s Return To Office Overview
- Office Utilization Rate: 39.2% (-17% the national average)
- Available Office Space: 25 million square feet
- Office Vacancy Rate: 24% (up from 3.7% pre-pandemic, Q4 2019)
- Most Common Policy From Biggest Employers: Hybrid, 2-3 days per week in office
- Mayor Sentiment: Pro-office
San Francisco’s Office Utilization Statistics
According to Kastle Systems as of September 26, 2022, San Francisco has an office utilization rate of 39.2%. This data is pulled from Kastle access control systems used across office buildings in the United States. The occupancy rate is as compared to January of 2020 before pandemic lockdowns started.
- San Francisco has an office utilization rate of 39.2%
- The average across the ten biggest metros is 47.3%
- San Francisco’s office utilization rate is 17% below the average
- San Francisco has the lowest utilization rate of all 10 metros
San Francisco’s Office Vacancy Statistics
According to CBRE as of Q2 2022 (the report link has since been removed since writing this – see the chart below), San Francisco has an office vacancy rate of 24.2%. CBRE, a commercial real estate firm, compiles this data for office buildings with 10,000+ square feet in downtown San Francisco (and excludes owner-occupied buildings).
- San Francisco has 25 million square feet of office space available for lease or sublease (source)
- San Francisco has an office vacancy rate of 24.2%
- San Francisco’s office vacancy rate pre-pandemic (Q4 2022) was 3.7%
- Office vacancy has increased by 554% since the end of 2019
- San Francisco’s availability rate is 28.7%, up from 10% at the end of 2019
RTO Plans For San Francisco’s 5 Biggest Employers
Notable San Francisco Companies Reducing Office Space
Let Lease Expire
Let Lease Expire
See the full list of companies reducing office space across the US.
San Francisco’s Sentiment For Return To Office (RTO)
March 3, 2022
“We are excited to welcome people back to downtown to work, to dine, and to experience the arts and culture that make this City special. This March is the start of a new beginning for this City, and I want to thank all the businesses and workers who are committed to supporting our city and our small businesses” (source).
March 9, 2022
“When I put out the call to businesses about committing to bring workers back into the offices, so many answered,” Breed said. “They are investing and they are returning. They want San Francisco to succeed” (source).
July 15, 2022
“I wouldn’t call this an exodus. I would call it a change,” Breed said. “We’ve experienced a global pandemic. People have been working from home. And I think that most employees want some level of work from home as they returned to the office. And a lot of employers are providing that as an option” (source).
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