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Workers are slowly returning to offices across Australia

The number of workers heading back to their CBD offices slowed down in July, according to the latest Office Occupancy survey by the Property Council of Australia 

The Property Council of Australia’s latest Office Occupancy survey found that Perth’s office occupancy rate continued to improve between May and June (63 to 65 per cent), and Melbourne’s lifted slightly (48 to 49 per cent), while occupancy levels in the ACT declined (60 to 53 per cent).

 All the other major cities remained steady,with Sydney’s occupancy numbers unchanged from the month prior at 55 per cent.

 Property Council Chief Executive Ken Morrison said the impact of the flu season was clearly stalling the return to the office, along with other headwinds such as flooding and train strikes. 

“Although office occupancy rates have steadily recovered since the beginning of the year, this month there was a clear pause in workers heading to the office,” Mr Morrison said.

 “The continued spread of COVID-19 and other illnesses, extremely wet weather on the east coast, combined with industrial action in NSW have all clearly hampered workers being able to get into their CBD workplaces.

 “Before the Delta strain hit in the middleof last year we saw a real resurgence in the return to office and we would expect occupancy to lift again once the current unfavourable impacts subside.

 “I don’t think these figures are a reflection of workers not wanting to be in the office, but rather a reflection of people being forced to stay home for a range of reasons, whether it be to care for sick kids, rest themselves or to avoid dangerous weather.”

 Sydney and Melbourne recorded peak occupancy levels at 66 per cent and 60 per cent respectively, with low days at 38 per cent and 31 per cent. 

The latest office occupancy survey found the preference for greater flexibility including working from home was the major driver of occupancy levels, while 79 per cent of respondents (up from 63 per cent in May) believe it will take 3 months or more for occupancy levels to materially increase.