office workers
Office workers is Sydney are reaching levels of those in Canberra and Brisbane. Image – Canva.
  • Occupancy in Sydney CBD has risen by 9% to 59%
  • NSW Gov recently held an Ideas Summit
  • Parramatta, Newcastle and Wollongong also recording returns to their respective CBDs

Last week we reported on the office occupancy survey conducted by the Property Council of Australia (PCA)  which has revealed nationally the number of office workers returning to CBD offices has increased slightly over the past month.

Jane Fitzgerald, the NSW Executive Director of the PCA says the results show that Sydney’s CBD was starting to see its “mojo” return.

“The ‘new normal’ is emerging as we approach 12 months since Sydney came out of lockdown,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“Workers are re-embracing face-to-face engagement with their colleagues and clients and valuing human connection and interaction that just can’t be replicated through online meetings.”

Jane Fitzgerald, NSW Executive Director Property Council

The data shows that occupancy has increased to 59% from 50% over March to April – not far behind Brisbane and Canberra, both of which have an occupancy rate of 63%.

Ms Fitzgerald said that the NSW Treasurer, Dominic Perrottet, has been proactively encouraging workers to return from the pandemic-induced exodus by holding an Ideas Summit. The summit included discussions such as the 1.5-metre distancing guidelines and the impact that has on offices, including lifts, along with the one person per two-square metre rule.

She added following the State’s economic rebuild post-pandemic, it is critical that re-enlivening the CBD remains a priority.

“There is no doubt that the State Government, and the City of Sydney, are stepping up to the plate to ensure the engine room of the State’s economy fires up again,” Ms Fitzgerald said.

“City vibrancy relies on workers being able to return to their offices and re-engage with their peers, frequent retail and hospitality venues in the CBD and attend networking events.

“Attendees at our recent events have never been more eager to enjoy networking with their industry colleagues and build relationships that will take our great State forward.”

Along with the Sydney CBD, data has been gathered for other local CBDs.

Parramatta is currently undergoing what the PCA describes as a “bottom-up return” to commercial offices – small and medium enterprises have been leading this charge. Areas with traditionally high levels of pedestrian levels have hit the same level as March 2020. By contrast, public service and large corporates return to Parramatta offices has been fairly sluggish.

Wollongong is nearing an almost 100% return rate for government tenants with many staff still working one day from home per week. Except for some call centres, most businesses are largely back in the office.

Newcastle has witnessed a strong return to office trend among the private industry with white-collar government workers returning at a slower rate.

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