Office occupancy rates on the up in most Australian CBDs

Office occupancy rates on the up in most Australian CBDs

Photo courtesy of Brisbane Local Marketing (via Unsplash)

New data released today by the Property Council of Australia has revealed that more employees are heading back into the office across the country, with four capital cities seeing occupancy rates rise in September.

According to the Office Occupancy Survey, Brisbane saw the highest percentage increase between August and September – rising from 57 to 70 per cent, while Adelaide saw occupancy increase from 71 per cent to 78 per cent.

Perth’s CBD also saw a seven per cent uptick, with the office occupancy rate in Australia’s sunniest capital increasing from 69 per cent to 76 per cent.

A marginal rise was reported in Melbourne to 41 per cent, compared to 39 per cent in the previous quarter.

Australia's most populous capital – Sydney – remained steady with a 1 per cent dip in office occupancy rates (to 52 per cent). Meanwhile, Canberra reported a drop of 10 per cent, with occupancy diving to 54 per cent in September.

Property Council chief executive Ken Morrison said it was pleasing to see occupancy rates rise significantly in a number of cities.

“We expected to see office occupancy lift after the winter Omicron wave subsided and that’s what we have witnessed in most capital cities around Australia,” Morrison said. 

“It's especially encouraging to see office occupancy jump significantly in several major CBDs, but the results are a lot lower in Melbourne and Sydney which had more lockdown disruption through the pandemic.

"Our survey shows people are returning to their offices strongly on peak days, with peak day occupancy reaching 84 per cent in Perth, 83 per cent in Adelaide, 79 per cent in Brisbane, Sydney at 65 per cent and 60 per cent in Canberra and Melbourne.”

Melbourne reported the worst occupancy rates during low-level days - only reaching 25 per cent. This was followed by Sydney (31 per cent), Canberra (36 per cent), Brisbane (55 per cent), Adelaide (61 per cent) and Perth (68 per cent).

The survey also found the preference for greater flexibility including working from home was a major driver of occupancy levels, with 83 per cent of respondents claiming it was influencing the current rates.

Health concerns’ influence on the data has continued to wane, with just 4 per cent claiming it had any impact on occupancy levels in September, down from 30 per cent in July.

“With warmer weather now upon us and the Omicron wave subsiding significantly, it bodes well for continued momentum in the months ahead,” Morrison said.

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