OPEN FOR BUSINESS

Houston workers heading back to office at second-highest rate in U.S., study shows

Houstonians are punching back in, a new report finds. Photo by Tom Werner/Getty Images

So much for that everybody-working-from-home thing. New data shows Houston workers have headed back to the office in greater numbers than workers in eight other major U.S. metros.

Figures from Kastle Systems, a provider of security services for buildings, indicate Houston ranks second for back-to-the-office activity, with a 37.9 percent occupancy rate as of October 21.

Meanwhile, 41.4 percent of workers in Dallas-Fort Worth were at the office as of October 21 compared with pre-pandemic levels. By comparison, Kastle Systems' 10-metro average was 27.4 percent. Kastle says this data makes Dallas-Fort Worth the "most open" place among the 10 metros.

To assess office occupancy habits since pandemic lockdowns went into effect, Kastle Systems has been examining keycard, fob, and app data from 3,600 buildings and 41,000 businesses in 138 cities. Its weekly back-to-the-office barometer reflects access activity in Houston and nine other major metros:

  • Dallas
  • Austin
  • New York City
  • Los Angeles
  • Chicago
  • Philadelphia
  • Washington, D.C.
  • San Francisco
  • San Jose, California

Elsewhere, Austin shows up at No. 5, with a 35.1 percent occupancy rate.

In last place among the 10 metros is New York City, where the occupancy rate was 17.4 percent.

------

This article originally ran on CultureMap.

Trending News

Building Houston

 
 

For over a year now, scientists have been testing wastewater for COVID-19. Now, the public can access that information. Photo via Getty Images

In 2020, a group of researchers began testing Houston's wastewater to collect data to help identify trends at the community level. Now, the team's work has been rounded up to use as an online resource.

The Houston Health Department and Rice University launched the dashboard on September 22. The information comes from samples collected from the city's 39 wastewater treatment plants and many HISD schools.

"This new dashboard is another tool Houstonians can use to gauge the situation and make informed decisions to protect their families," says Dr. Loren Hopkins, chief environmental science officer for the health department and professor in the practice of statistics at Rice University, in a news release. "A high level of virus in your neighborhood's wastewater means virus is spreading locally and you should be even more stringent about masking up when visiting public places."

The health department, Houston Water, Rice University, and Baylor College of Medicine originally collaborated on the wastewater testing. Baylor microbiologist Dr. Anthony Maresso, director of BCM TAILOR Labs, led a part of the research.

"This is not Houston's first infectious disease crisis," Maresso says in an earlier news release. "Wastewater sampling was pioneered by Joseph Melnick, the first chair of Baylor's Department of Molecular Virology and Microbiology, to get ahead of polio outbreaks in Houston in the 1960s. This work essentially ushered in the field of environmental virology, and it began here at Baylor. TAILOR Labs is just continuing that tradition by providing advanced science measures to support local public health intervention."

It's an affordable way to track the virus, says experts. People with COVID-19 shed viral particles in their feces, according to the release, and by testing the wastewater, the health department can measure important infection rate changes.

The dashboard, which is accessible online now, is color-coded by the level of viral load in wastewater samples, as well as labeled with any recent trend changes. Houstonians can find the interactive COVID-19 wastewater monitoring dashboard, vaccination sites, testing sites, and more information at houstonemergency.org/covid19.

Trending News