White-collar workers are back in the office. Just don’t expect them to stay for eight hours. As more companies tell American workers to return to their cubicles for two, three or even four days a week, part of a new wave of even tougher return-to-office mandates kicking in this fall, one thing is clear: The era of sitting at your desk from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. is over.

Instead, in a transformative shift to the workday, employees are cashing in on an unspoken new flexibility. They are returning to the office on their own terms, coming in late after a workout, or leaving early to grab groceries or pick up their children before logging back on.

And while many employers are now asking people to come in a certain number of days a week, hardly any are tracking exactly how long they stay. In most of the country, only about half of office visits now last for at least six hours at a time, according to WiFi data from Basking, a workplace occupancy analytics firm. That is in stark contrast to before the pandemic, when a majority of visits, 84 percent, lasted six hours or more.

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