EDC’s Employee Retention & Return to Office Study

The pandemic has dramatically changed how people work, leading to a ‘great reshuffling’ with record high quits across all industries. In 2022, more than 3.5 million jobs were advertised as remote positions. This has left nearly half of the office space unused across the country. Despite all this disruption, the competition for talent has never been greater. There were more than nine million unique job openings in August 2023.

In San Diego, job growth is strong with nearly all industries more than fully recovering job losses from the pandemic. Yet, official office vacancy rates remain elevated (14 percent) and another five million square feet are in the pipeline. Meanwhile, many employers remain unsure of when and who should return to the office.

These changing dynamics add complexity to talent recruitment and retention efforts, while adding uncertainty to the future use of office space across the region.

To respond to this persistent and pervasive quandary, EDC is scoping a unique study of the local workforce across 2024. We have seen the results of a similar study of a large city in the Midwest. We will survey the employees of large and small companies throughout San Diego County. To our knowledge this is the first local study of scale on workforce requirements and desires.

Goal and objectives

Goal: Identify evolving local trends in how work is done, workers’ needs, workforce trends, and workplace requirements to inform company return to office plans as well as office tenant attraction strategies.

Key objectives:

  • Survey workers to understand their needs related to in-office and remote work to strengthen retention.
  • Inform individual company return to office planning and strategies.
  • Inform regional and sub-regional tenant attraction strategies.


  • Report: A comprehensive web report, summarizing regional and sub-regional trends related to work activities, worker needs, and workplace adaptation. Individualized company results and briefing for employers (assuming minimum workforce participation).
  • Forum: EDC will organize a forum for a broad audience in Q3 2024 to disseminate the region-wide results.
  • Presentations: EDC’s Research Bureau will present the data and analysis to stakeholder audiences, including EDC’s board of directors, HR Forum, and Economic Development Committee as well as to local associations including SHRM San Diego, NAIOP San Diego Chapter, Downtown San Diego Partnership.
  • Promotions: News release highlighting aggregated study results to local media. Active social media across EDC channels, plus e-communications including Good News of the Week and Quarterly Economic Snapshot.

We need your input. To participate in the study or sponsor, contact our team:

Eduardo Velasquez
Eduardo Velasquez

Sr. Director, Research & Economic Development