The Property Council of Australia’s latest office occupancy survey has revealed that Melbourne’s recovery is yet to take off.
The monthly survey of building owners and managers has found that, despite being taken prior to Victoria’s current lockdown, Melbourne CBD remains considerably lower than other capital cities at 45 per cent of pre-COVID occupancy levels.
During May, Sydney CBD was the only capital city to experience a healthy rise in occupancy to 68 per cent of pre-COVID levels while other CBDs remained reasonably consistent with workers returning to their offices.
Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison said that while Sydney has largely caught up with other cities, Melbourne remains a cause for concern. Prior to the Melbourne lockdown, almost half of survey respondents identified worker preferences for greater flexibility as the primary barrier to achieving full occupancy in the CBD.
“Flexibility will continue to be a strong feature of working in the post-pandemic world, but the current levels of occupancy are not sufficient to support Australia’s broader economic recovery,” Mr Morrison said.
Mr Morrison said that the property industry is undertaking steps and incentivising workers to come back to Australia’s CBD through a coordinated program of activations and attractions.
The Property Council have collaborated with the City of Melbourne and the Australian Retailers Association to initiate FOMO Fridays. In Queensland, the Property Council worked with Brisbane City Council, Queensland Government and other CBD stakeholders have launched the Fridays in the City initiative to encourage greater CBD participation and occupancy.
The survey found that 81 per cent of office building owners and managers are not expecting to see a material increase in occupancy levels within the next three months, despite increased incentives.
To view the occupancy results in more detail, click here for the Property Council’s Media Release.