Melbourne’s return to office rate lags nation

Melbourne office return occupancy rates are falling according to the latest data, with CBD businesses bearing the brunt of Covid lockdowns.

Disastrous new figures revealed in the latest Property Council of Australia survey show city offices were only 38 per cent full in July, down from 49 per cent in June.

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Behind the rest of the nation, Lord Mayor Sally Cap tells Seven that it’s difficult because there’s also evidence of a record number of visitors to the city.

“People are coming to the city in droves for recreation, retail and restaurants. We saw our biggest spend in July.

“So that confidence to come for fun is there, but the confidence to come to work is not and we have to change that,” she says.

Shadow Minister for CBD Recovery David Southwick says the government needs a back-to-work plan, even if it’s a hybrid model.

“Our CBD is a ghost town. Melbourne is not recovering, it’s upside down,” he said. “And if other states can bring workers back, then why can’t we.”

But Melbourne is not isolated in its experience, the latest ABS data reveals that 41% of Australians regularly work from home, up from 32% before the pandemic.

What remains clear is that while hybrid work, a symptom of the Covid pandemic, seems here to stay, the most significant impact is the continued damage to small businesses and a once-thriving CBD.

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Jose C. Birney