The latest Office Occupancy survey by the Property Council of Australia shows that following record-low occupancy in January, caused by a combination of Omicron and the holiday period, there was a consistent lift in office workers returning to CBDs across Australia. 

The February survey of office owners revealed Melbourne’s CBD reached 15 per cent occupancy, while Canberra achieved 21 per cent, levels not seen in those capitals since June 2021 (when occupancy was at 26 per cent and 72 per cent respectively). Sydney recorded 18 per cent occupancy, which was just shy of its November figure (23 per cent).

Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison says that while the results were encouraging, more work needs to be done. 

“There is still a long way to go and there are local factors affecting each city, but these figures are a strong start which we expect to accelerate in March, as more businesses reopen their offices. 

“It’s important that governments, councils and businesses have a big focus on bringing our CBDs back to life,” he says. 

The strongest rebounds were recorded in Brisbane, where occupancy jumped from a record low of 13 per cent to a record high of 41 per cent.  Adelaide also came off a low of 11 per cent in January to achieve 47 per cent occupancy in February. 

The only CBD that didn’t record a positive boost was Perth, which recorded its lowest office occupancy rate (55 per cent) since the survey commenced in July 2020. 

What this means for regions

Experts note that if we do see the return to the office increasing or remaining consistent, a large number of regions could see a fall in house prices at a faster rate.

The regions are more volatile than the capital cities, simply because they are smaller markets with lower liquidity. So, it doesn’t take much of a change in demand for there to be a significant change in the market on the ground.

Improving workplace wellbeing and productivity

In the interests of maintaining solid growth from a commercial and employment perspective, the most successful companies are well aware that staff are a major asset.

Creating a healthy work environment gives you and your employee’s opportunities to share ideas for your company that can encourage growth.

A healthy office environment can also boost your employees’ productivity levels and reduce your chances of dealing with frequent absenteeism and, in certain industries, workers’ compensation and medical claims.

Company leaders should firstly hire the right staff for the job. Creating a comfortable, light-filled office space and improving communications are simple steps to forging workplace unity and enhancing the bottom line.