office desk laptop
The Property Council says only 31 per cent of offices are occupied in Melbourne. Image: Alesia Kazantceva, Unsplash
  • Survey shows the office occupancy rate is just 31 per cent
  • All other capital cities have a higher rate
  • Current capacity rate remains at 50 per cent

The Property Council of Australia’s Office Occupancy Survey has revealed whilst Melbourne’s occupancy rate has increased, it is still far behind other capital cities.

The survey reveals both good and bad news for the Victorian capital and comes after the Property Council called for employees to return to their office workplaces in all capital cities in late January. 

January saw an increase to 31 per cent in the occupancy rate. Good news, as this is much higher than the low of seven per cent recorded in October.

The bad news is that this is still well below Sydney’s which is 45 per cent and the other capital cities which currently have occupancy levels greater than 60 per cent – more than twice as high as Melbourne.

The Property Council calculates the rate based on whether a tenant’s employees are occupying the space – therefore, it excludes whether a lease is in place or not.

Interestingly, the survey reveals that only a small number of respondents consider workplace safety concerns as being the main factor for the low occupancy rates.

Nearly 40 per cent consider changed workplace preferences and another 20 per cent cite public transport safety as greater influences on the occupancy rate.

Three months is how long over 50 per cent of survey respondents think it will take to see a significant increase in occupancy levels.

The survey results have been announced on what would have been the second day of the capacity increase for office workers in Melbourne’s CBD.

The increase to a capacity rate of 75 per cent – which was due to start yesterday, Monday the 8th of February – was shelved due to a quarantine worker testing positive to the highly contagious UK strain of the virus.

For the time being the 50 per cent office cap for private and public office-based workers will remain in place.

Nethertheless, Danni Hunter, the Property Council’s Victorian Executive Director, is pleased with the results believing more and more Victorians will continue to make a return to their offices, especially considering the summer break and school holidays are now over.

“We commend the Government for its safe and progressive steps to allow Victorians to reunite with their workmates since November last year. When public health advice has required it, that return has been paused…. this sensible approach has built an underlying confidence in the mindset of Victoria’s office community that they can safely return to their workplaces,” said Ms Hunter.

“According to The Economist, for every one knowledge worker, there are five jobs which are supported by that worker’s attendance at the office. The Property Council’s Occupancy Survey results show just how important it is for the future of Melbourne’s CBD, that Victorians know that our office environments are both COVID-Safe and extremely attractive places to be.”

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