Wednesday, May 29, 2024

Lord Mayor says work from home not working for Melbourne

Melbourne Lord Mayor, Sally Capp, says new office occupancy figures are bad news for the city’s post-COVID recovery.

The Property Council of Australia’s latest Office Occupancy Survey found Melbourne’s occupancy rate had dropped from 49% to 38% for the month of July.

The Melbourne Lord Mayor described the downturn as “a sharp but unsurprising blow that is rattling our city traders”.

“An indefinite extension of the current work-from-home advice will continue to impede our city’s ongoing bounce back,” said Lord Mayor Capp.

“We know people are visiting Melbourne for leisure and pleasure – our retail spend is above pre-pandemic levels, weekend footfall is back to normal and areas such as Southbank have never been busier.

“Our central entertainment district is thriving. But our central business district remains a cause for concern.

“We know the city is moving to a new rhythm. City workers and employers must remain the loudest beat,” she said.

Meanwhile, Perth’s office occupancy levels surged in July, with the strongest recorded occupancy rate result since November 2021 – increasing from 65 to 71% – while office occupancy in Sydney dropped from 55 to 52% and Brisbane fell from 64 to 53%. Adelaide occupancy dropped from 71 to 64%, with a wave of Omicron and flu infections stalling the return of workers.

The only other market to see an increase in occupancy was Canberra.

Property Council Acting Victorian Executive Director, Adina Cirson said “a perfect storm of factors” was behind the Melbourne figures slump.

“We were making great progress. Our figures have been going up here in Melbourne since February,” she said.

Lord Mayor Capp said the economic success of Melbourne’s CBD had benefits for Victoria and the nation.

“It is deserving of efforts to ensure it flourishes well into the future.”

“We’re doing our part to earn the commute by investing heavily in events and culture – our Winter events calendar has resulted in $789 million in visitor spending, 13% above the pre-pandemic average.”

She said Melburnians knew how to live with the COVID-19 virus, evidenced by the state’s highly vaccinated population.

“Individuals have the tools and the knowledge to make the best decisions for themselves and their loved ones.”

“While the work from home advice continues and city workers and employers respond by staying out of offices, our small business owners are running out of choices. Many of them are on their last legs, trying desperately to stay alive.

“The current work from home advice request impacts confidence, behaviours and livelihoods. 

“Once again our small business owners need hope and clarity. They need to know when the State Government will review the July work from home advice, and reveal the triggers – be it case numbers, hospitalisation data, vaccination coverage – that will remove a big hurdle to people coming back to the office.”

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