Sydney’s office market showing strong recovery. Image – Canva
  • Sydney's CBD offices now sit at 66% of the pre-pandemic occupancy rate. 
  • Melbourne is lagging behind with 48% office occupancy
  • PCA highlight the importance for occupancy rates to further improve.

Office occupancy rates are making a comeback across Australian city centres, but Melbourne CBD is still lagging behind, according to fresh data released by the Property Council of Australia (PCA).

The survey conducted in May 2022 shows that office occupancy in Sydney’s CBD has surpassed the 50% mark for the first time in almost a year. It now sits at 66% of the pre-pandemic occupancy rate.

Property Council’s NSW Executive Director Luke Achterstraat said the results showed the Sydney CBD was recovering from the past two years.

“This positive lift has occurred at a time when COVID and now the flu is circulating widely, forcing many people and families to stay home or isolate, on top of some extremely wet weather on the east coast,” Mr Achterstraat said.

“To have a peak of 66 per cent is very reassuring as more individuals and workplaces are
embracing the benefits of face to face connection and that CBDs are regaining much of
their vibrancy,” he said.

Sydney office market’s steady recovery is confirmed by research released by Colliers last month which suggested that inspection numbers are on the rise.

Overall office occupancy rate as a percentage of the pre-COVID rate

Melbourne is now the only CBD with less the half of its pre-Covid occupancy rate. Source – PCA

Adelaide is showing the best recovery performance with occupancy rates at 71% of pre-pandemic levels while Melbourne is lagging behind with 48% office occupancy.

Mr Achterstraat believes it is important for the recovery to continue and for occupancy rates to further improve.

“It is critical the steady trickle becomes an even stronger stream.”

Luke Achterstraat, Property Council’s NSW Executive Director

He says that the survey found that some major employers report one in five of their staff has not been back to the office in months.

Working from home is still a preference. Image – Canva

Mr Achterstraat said results also found an increase in preferences for greater flexibility
including working from home.

“While most businesses are embracing some flexible working arrangements with their staff, there are huge benefits in personal connection and it’s good to see these being
embraced once again,” he said.

“We all need to celebrate the unique dividends that come from face-to-face time with coworkers and customers.”

Beyond personal benefits for employees, Mr Achterstraat highlights the economic benefits for city-based retail businesses.

“The coffee, lunch or newspaper we grab from CBD vendors has a flow-on effect, as does the impromptu chat in the breakout room with colleagues we have not seen for a while.

“We hope to see this trend continue as the Property Council works with businesses and all levels of government to bring back vibrancy into our CBDs.”

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