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Employees in Asian Commercial Hubs are Flocking Back to the Office

While most major cities in the U.S. are operating with half-empty offices, workers in some of Asia’s largest cities are returning to office life in droves. Despite continuing concerns with the COVID-19 pandemic, Asia’s major cities are once more teeming with office workers. In Hong Kong, premium office spaces have eclipsed London and New York as the most expensive, according to analysis from Savills. In Singapore, where COVID-19 restrictions have eased, occupancy has gone up so much that office rents in the central region have climbed by 2.4 percent since the previous quarter. 

One common denominator of note for Asian commercial hubs bustling with office workers is the ample presence of public transportation, making office commute times drastically lower than in many major cities in the U.S. Long commute times are one of the reasons that U.S. office workers have long dug in their heels to insist on fully remote or hybrid work, and employers have largely bent to that preference.

Employers in the Eastern hemisphere don’t seem to be as concerned with implementing remote or hybrid work to keep their employees working lest they have no employees at all. Real estate firm CBRE discovered in their Spring 2022 Asia Pacific Occupier Survey that more than a quarter of Asian businesses it surveyed wouldn’t permit remote working. A little over 60 percent of employers said they intended to permit some workers to work remotely, within that group 50 percent said they anticipated employees would spend the majority of their time at the office.

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