CBRE’s Australian head of office research Tom Broderick said companies and employees alike are acknowledging the importance of face-to-face collaboration and the synergy it brings to their operations.
“Every major CBD market in Australia has recorded increased occupancy rates over the past 12 months, with the smaller markets of Perth and Adelaide having rebounded impressively, nearing pre-pandemic levels on peak days,” Broderick said.
Sydney has been the biggest improver over the past 12 months, with occupancy averaging 75 per cent of pre-COVID-19 levels across the workweek in the third quarter up from just 49 per cent a year ago. Peak days in the middle of the week are the most robust at 83 per cent.
In Melbourne – given the extended lockdowns and a more structural adoption of work-from- home by employees – the CBD has the lowest average occupancy at 56 per cent of pre-COVID levels and 63 per cent on peak days. However, the Melbourne market has observed an improvement, up by 13 percentage points over the past 12 months.
Perth and Adelaide benefited from fewer lockdowns during the pandemic, meaning that working from home had become less structural in both cities.
Courtnall said he expected the overall improvement in national office attendance to continue as many large corporations set clearer return to office policies.
“CBRE’s 2023 Global Occupier Sentiment Survey found that 69 per cent of Asia-Pacific respondents – versus just 45 per cent from the US – have set a goal for employees to be mostly or fully in-office and this has been reflected in recently introduced policies by some major corporates in Australia requiring a minimum 50 per cent attendance rate during the week or month,” Courtnall said.
The entry of The Great Room as a new player into Sydney’s co-working sector is a sign of continued confidence in the burgeoning sector, with demand rising to pre-pandemic levels.
According to CBRE’s 2023 Australian Flex Space in the Age of Hybrid Work report, Sydney is the largest office market in Australia – with proximity to finance, insurance, and professional services – and already leads the country in terms of flex availability, accounting for 3.2 per cent of co-working spaces nationally.
The launch of The Great Room’s first Sydney flex space is underpinned by the appointment of Josh Alfafara as general manager and head of Australian operations. He has worked in the commercial real estate and flex space markets sector for more than a decade across Australia and the Philippines.
“We are very excited to raise the bar within the co-working market by providing a unique new premium offering,” he said.
“Flex spaces foster collaboration and strengthen productivity – The amenities and experiential benefits provided by coworking spaces such as The Great Room have been a significant factor in the ‘flight to quality’ that we’re witnessing within Sydney’s office market.”
He said it’s important for businesses to “earn the commute” if they’re seeking to attract and retain top talent.
“With half of the floor already committed to a few months before we open, it is a clear sign that demand is rising, and so are people’s expectations of what a flex space can provide,” he said. Alfafara said The Great Room by Industrious is set to expand in Australia, looking to open locations within several key cities by the fourth quarter of 2024.
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