Property Australia

Office occupancy data shows workers heading back to the office in force


There was a sustained and significant increase in the number of workers travelling to CBD offices across the country in May, according to the Property Council of Australia's latest Office Occupancy Survey.

In the Property Council of Australia's latest Office Occupancy Survey, Adelaide's occupancy grew from 59 to 71 per cent in May, Canberra increased from 39 per cent to 60 per cent, while Perth and Brisbane both increased by 13 per cent to 63 and 64 per cent, respectively.

According to Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison, occupancy percentages in Sydney and Melbourne have also increased, rising 13 and 12 per cent, respectively, to 48 and 55 per cent in Melbourne and Sydney.

“What we’ve seen this month is a consistent and sizeable lift in the numbers of people returning to the office across all CBDs,” Morrison said.

“More individuals and workplaces are embracing the benefits of face-to-face connection and that CBDs are regaining much of their vibrancy. “This positive lift has occurred at a time when COVID and now the flu are circulating widely, forcing many people and families to stay home or isolate, on top of some extremely wet weather on the east coast.

“Despite the challenging environment, it’s very pleasing to see plenty of people returning to their workplaces, with occupancy on peak days reaching 80 per cent in Adelaide, 73 per cent in Brisbane and 66 per cent in Sydney,” he said.

Morrison predicted that this pattern would continue, despite the fact that flexible working will be a more prominent aspect in the future than it was before the pandemic. 

“While flexible working is here to stay, there is a value in face-to-face connection that can’t be replicated over a screen,” Morrison said.

“Our latest Office Market Report shows that this jump in occupancy is matched by strong demand for office space from tenants, despite the impacts of the pandemic.

 “Strongly growing white collar employment also paints a positive picture for the future of our CBDs,” he said.

According to the most recent office occupancy study, the desire for increased flexibility, including working from home, was the primary driver of occupancy levels, and more than half of respondents felt it would take three months or more for occupancy levels to considerably rise.

Numbers also varied based on the day of the week, with Mondays and Fridays typically witnessing lower rates of occupancy than mid-week. In Melbourne, office occupancy during the week would peak at 57 per cent with low days reaching 27 per cent. In Adelaide, peak office occupancy hit 80 per cent while the low days hit 52 per cent.

“Many businesses and building owners are embracing change and evolving the role of the workplace for their teams,” Morrison said.

“It is clear is that CBDs will continue have a very strong role to play in a post-COVID world, even as businesses and their employees evolve to new ways of working.”

Office Occupancy rates:

Screen Shot 2022-06-07 at 4.40.36 pm