Measuring The Pulse Of San Francisco’s Return To Office

San Francisco Return To Office

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

 

Office occupancy San Francisco
Image Credit: Kastle Systems

 

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

 

Office vacancy rate San Francisco
Image Credit: CBRE

 

RTO Plans For San Francisco’s 5 Biggest Employers

Company

RTO Date

Location Policy

Office Visit Expectations

Salesforce

March 7, 2022

No expectation

Hybrid

3 days per week

Hybrid

3 days per week

Uber

August 25, 2022

Hybrid

50% office

Lyft

Hybrid

Undetermined

 

Notable San Francisco Companies Reducing Office Space

Company

Employees

Date

Lease Plan

Remote Policy

Block

8,500

Let Lease Expire

Remote First

Salesforce

50,000

Cancel

Remote First

Dropbox

2,800

Cancel

Remote First

Pinterest

3,200

Cancel

Remote First

Uber

29,000

Sublease

Hybrid

Autodesk

12,500

Cancel

Hybrid

Citigroup

210,153

Cancel

Hybrid

Eventbrite

1,000

Let Lease Expire

Hybrid

Zynga

2,300

Cancel

Hybrid

Yelp

3,900

Sublease

Remote First

Affirm Holdings

1,340

Sublease

Remote First

Airbnb

6,000

Sublease/ Cancel

Remote First

Oracle

135,000

Sublease

Hybrid

Credit Karma

1,600

Office First

See the full list of companies reducing office space across the US.

Every Major Company Reducing Office Space: 2020-2022

 

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).

The Hub For Return To Office (RTO) News & Data

RTO news by company: Alphabet (Google), Amazon, Apple, Bank Of America, > Goldman SachsJP Morgan Chase, Meta (Facebook), Microsoft, Morgan Stanley, Wells Fargo

RTO news by city: San Francisco, New York City

About the author

Henry OLoughlin

Hi, I'm the founder of Buildremote. I have worked from home for a decade and run a fully remote, four-day work week company for eight years. I've made all of the mistakes running a remote company. I hope if you read my site, you'll be spared.

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