The number of Australians working from the office has bounced back to pre-Omicron levels, according to the Property Council’s latest office occupancy survey.
The February survey of office owners found Melbourne’s CBD reached 15 per cent occupancy, while Canberra achieved 21 per cent. These levels have not been seen in those capitals since June 2021, when occupancy was at 26 per cent and 72 per cent respectively.
Sydney recorded 18 per cent occupancy, which was just shy of its November figure of 23 per cent.
The strongest rebounds were recorded in Brisbane, where occupancy jumped from a record low of 13 per cent to 41 per cent. Adelaide came off a low of 11 per cent in January to achieve 47 per cent occupancy in February.
The only CBD which didn’t record a positive boost was Perth, which recorded its lowest office occupancy rate – 55 per cent – since the survey commenced in July 2020.
“Occupancy really bottomed out in January because of the Omicron wave and holidays, so it’s heartening to see such a significant turnaround just one month later,” says Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison.
“There is still a long way to go and there are local factors affecting each city, but these figures are a strong start which we expect to accelerate in March, as more businesses reopen their offices.”
The Property Council aims to boost these positive results with fresh campaigns to revitalise Australian CBDs.
The Brisbane VIP campaign, supported by the Queensland Government, Brisbane City Council, The Courier-Mail, and a range of private sector CBD stakeholders, kicked off yesterday with a promise to “bring the energy back to our CBD”. More than $40,000 in prizes are up for grabs, from car parking and free coffee for a year, to tourism and spa experiences, football tickets and shopping bonanzas.
In New South Wales, the Property Council partnered with the City of Sydney to host the four week “Your city’s waiting for you” campaign which encouraged people to rediscover their CBD.
“Our central business districts are big engine rooms of Australia’s economy – generating 15 per cent of Australian jobs. It is important that governments, councils and business have a big focus on bringing our CBDs back to life,” Morrison concludes.