Despite the recent uptick, occupancies are still relatively low in Sydney and Melbourne. Image – Supplied.
  • Sydney's CBD office occupancy rate increased by 9% to 50% in April
  • Melbourne's CBD rate increased by 6% to 41%
  • Most other capitals remained around the same

Data released by the Property Council of Australia (PCA) office occupancy survey has shown an uptake in workers returning to both Sydney and Melbourne CBDs.

Sydney’s CBD occupancy rate increase to 50% in April, a 9% increase compared to March. Melbourne’s CBD increased to 41% after recording 35% in March.

Despite this increase, however, the two largest cities in the country fall behind that of fellow capital cities. Brisbane remained the same at 63% and Perth’s fell slightly from 71% to 70% – however, these results were recorded just after Perth’s recent snap lockdown where many office workers were encouraged to work from home.

Darwin remained the same at 84%, as did Brisbane at 63%, Adelaide fell from 71% to 70%, Canberra also fell from 65% to 63% while Hobart increased to 82%.

The majority of building owners and managers surveyed said they are not expecting increases in occupancy levels over the next three months.

Ken Morrison, Property Council Chief Executive, said the results demonstrate solid progress in the reactivation of the 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,” he 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.”

Ken Morrison, Property Council Chief Executive

Greater flexibility was identified by close to half of the survey respondents as the main barrier to achieving full office occupancy. Concerns surrounding public transport and government restrictions continue to influence workers in part due to several localised lockdown over the past few months.

The survey response comes as the property industry has established initiatives throughout the nation to encourages workers to return to the CBD. One such program is FOMO Friday which has been co-launched with the City of Melbourne and the Australian Retailers Association.

“These campaigns are aimed at encouraging city workers to rediscover what’s great about their CBDs with numerous activities, events and freebies on offer,” Mr Morrison said.

“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.”

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