SUBDUED OFFICE OCCUPANCY UNDERPINS NEED TO SUPPORT CBD

The latest results of the Property Council’s office occupancy survey show that Brisbane’s CBD activity levels have remained flat during April, as the Property Council ramps up efforts to encourage workers to return to the city.

The survey revealed Brisbane’s CBD occupancy level had stagnated at just over 60 per cent in April, marking the fifth consecutive month of little movement in the return to workplaces.

The Property Council’s Queensland Deputy Executive Director, Jen Williams, explained that while flexibility will continue to be a major feature of workplaces and there remains a small risk of future lockdowns, there is still a long way to go until the CBD reaches the level of occupancy anticipated in the new ‘normal’.

“Activity levels in Brisbane’s office buildings not only affect workplaces and office landlords, but the thousands of small businesses and retailers that rely on high levels of foot traffic to turn a profit.

“All businesses in the CBD are interrelated and largely reliant on office workers. From dry cleaners, to take away outlets, to electronic scooter companies, everyone relies on the consistent foot traffic that workers generate.

“As a direct result of the state’s success in tackling the health pandemic and the relatively low level of restrictions remaining, Brisbane was an early mover in the return of workers to the CBD.

“Unfortunately, we have seen the number of workers heading back into the CBD stagnate over the past five months. To position Brisbane for the future and capitalise on the generations of investment that have gone before, we must break the habits of COVID and get our people back together.

“In other parts of the world where employees have been forced to work from home for longer, businesses are desperate to get back to the office, as they have seen their productivity stagnate.

“With the likes of Google and Apple announcing major return to the office plans once the vaccine rollout allows, Brisbane and Australian businesses will risk losing their first mover advantage if they don’t get their teams back to together.

“This is why the Property Council is working with Brisbane City Council on a campaign to not only attract workers back into the office, but to ensure they make the most of what local retailers, cafes, restaurants, and bars have to offer.

“The State Government and Brisbane City Council’s Brisbane Holiday Dollars initiative is welcome recognition of the important role the CBD plays in contributing to the broader state and economy.

“While much is being done, there is still a long way to go until CBD activity levels return to ‘normal’. The Property Council is keen to work across all levels of government and industry to bring activity back to our city centre.”

Media contact: Jen Williams |  M  0448 432 936 |   E  jwilliams@propertycouncil.com.au