Total
0
Shares
Market Herald logo

Subscribe

Be the first with the news that moves the market
  • As a “new normal” creeps in, workers are coming back to the office, but their desire for flexible work arrangements remains a barrier to full occupancy
  • The Property Council of Australia’s latest office occupancy survey has revealed a big step up in activity in the CBDs of Sydney and Melbourne despite the cities still lagging behind other capitals
  • All other capitals recorded a relatively consistent number of workers returning to their offices from March to April, with Perth CBD’s occupancy impacted by the recent snap lockdown
  • Almost half of the survey respondents identified worker preferences for greater flexibility as the main barrier to achieving full occupancy
  • The survey found that a majority of office building owners and managers are not expecting to see a material increase in occupancy levels within the next three months

As a “new normal” creeps in, workers are coming back to the office, but their desire for flexible work arrangements remains a barrier to full occupancy.

The Property Council of Australia’s latest office occupancy survey has revealed a big step up in activity in the CBDs of Sydney and Melbourne despite the cities still lagging behind other capitals.

Sydney’s CBD took a significant jump forward in April, rising to 59 per cent occupancy after recording 50 per cent in March. Melbourne’s CBD increased from 35 per cent to 41 per cent occupancy over April.

All other capitals recorded a relatively consistent number of workers returning to their offices from March to April, with Perth CBD’s occupancy impacted by the recent snap lockdown.

Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison said that the results demonstrate welcome progress towards the reactivation of our city centres.

“The benefits of bustling CBDs are significant, not just for the small businesses that rely on city foot traffic, but for the broader Australian economy,” Morrison said.

“Melbourne and Sydney have been the cities hardest hit by the COVID disruption and it is encouraging to see the big number of workers returning to these CBD in recent months.”

“But Melbourne still has a long way to go and more State Government leadership is needed to encourage public servants back to the office to bolster this recovery.”

Almost half of the survey respondents identified worker preferences for greater flexibility as the main barrier to achieving full occupancy. Government restrictions and public transport concerns increased as an influencing factor following several localised lockdowns in recent months.

ABS data for February 2021 showed two in five people worked from home at least once a week and according to a survey from the University of Melbourne, almost 70 per cent of Australians want it to stay this way.

“As expected, we are continuing to see isolated COVID cases having an impact on activity within CBDs,” Morrison said.

“Flexibility will continue to be a major feature of working in the post-pandemic world, but there is clearly still a long way to go until our CBDs reach the levels of occupancy anticipated in the new normal.”

The survey found that a majority of office building owners and managers are not expecting to see a material increase in occupancy levels within the next three months.

“Building owners and managers are not waiting for government leadership to drive CBD reactivation, we are proactively making the case for workers to return to their offices and reengage with all the benefits of face-to-face working,” Morrison said.

Office occupancy by CBD

CBDJan 2021Feb 2021Mar 2021Apr 2021
Melbourne31%24%35%41%
Sydney45%48%50%59%
Brisbane63%64%63%63%
Canberra68%65%65%63%
Adelaide69%69%71%70%
Hobart80%76%80%82%
Perth66%65%71%70%*
Darwin80%80%84%84%
Figures are based on responses from Property Council members who own or manage CBD office buildings and cover occupancy for the period from 27 – 30 April 2021.
*Results for Perth were recorded during the recent lockdown, but reflect an overall assessment of occupancy for the month of April.
More From The Market Herald
Newmark Property (ASX:NPR) - Joint Managing Directors, Simon T Morris (left) and Chris Langford (right)

" Newmark Property REIT (ASX:NPR) debuts on the ASX

Newmark Property REIT (NPR) has debuted on the ASX after raising $128.3 million in an initial public offering (IPO).

" BWP Trust (ASX:BWP) appoints Danielle Carter to board

BWP Trust (BWP) has appointed Danielle Carter as Non-Executive External Director.

" SRG Global (ASX:SRG) secures projects valued at $70m

SRG Global (SRG) has secured two specialist façade contracts in Perth valued at approximately $70 million.

" Home values rising at softest rate since January

Australian property values increased by 1.3 per cent over November, marking the 14th month in a row that CoreLogic’s national home value inde…