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Positive signs in return to office

OFFICE • December 2, 2021

Australian cities hardest hit by COVID show positive signs and a step towards recovery as the number of workers returning to the office tripled in the last month.

The Property Council of Australia’s latest Office Occupancy survey revealed that in November Melbourne’s office occupancy tripled from 4 per cent to 12 per cent, whilst in Sydney occupancy reached double digits at 23 per cent, up from 8 per cent in the previous month.

Property Council of Australia CEO Ken Morrison said while the increases were coming off lock-down lows, the figures were heartening.

“We know COVID-19 and successive lockdowns left our major CBDs deserted, so it’s good news, even at this traditionally slower time of year, that people are heading back to their places of work,” Mr Morrison said.

The November survey also found that both ACT and Brisbane are showing positive signs, with office occupancy increasing from 7 to 17 percent and 57 to 63 percent respectively.

“Given the ACT’s high vaccination rates, Canberra is poised to rebound, and with greater government support for the public service returning to the office, we hope the CBD and its businesses that are crying out for customers, can be revived,” Mr Morrison said.

The survey also asked respondents when they expect to see a material increase in occupancy levels, while 31 percent said it would take 1-2 months, more than half of respondents - 62 percent suggested major improvements wouldn’t be seen for 3 months or more.

“We’ve seen good positive momentum over November but the timing of the Christmas break will put a pause on this as workers take a decent break to recharge after a challenging two years, before returning to work and their offices, after summer,” Mr Morrison said.

 

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