Back to the office? Nope, workers shunning city’s half-empty CBD

Brisbane’s CBD office towers are less than half full on some days and owners are blaming health restrictions and the push to work from home.

Sep 09, 2021, updated Sep 09, 2021
Australia's Covid case numbers have hit their lowest mark in more than a year.

Australia's Covid case numbers have hit their lowest mark in more than a year.

The monthly survey from the Property Council found an occupancy rate of 60 per cent of pre-COVID levels in August. On low occupancy days that falls to 46 per cent.

When the survey first began in July last year occupancy was running at 48 per cent, but had been running at about 70 per cent for most of the year.

The fall in August has been attributed to the recent lockdowns. 

Property Council Queensland executive director Jen Williams said masks in the workplace, border closures, shifting goalposts for vaccination targets, and the ever-present risk of snap lockdowns, had contributed to an increased number of employees once again working from home.

“Queensland has so far been spared from the extended lockdowns being experienced in other states, however it is clear the most recent eight-day lockdown and lingering health directives have had a big impact on confidence.

““This drop in occupancy has flow-on impacts not only to workplaces and team culture, but to the retail, social and cultural institutions that rely on the steady flow of foot traffic that the city’s worker population used to reliably provide.

“Given the messaging we have heard from the Government this week, it is evident that until we can get our state’s vaccination rates to a higher level, the current uncertainty and suppressed CBD activity levels will remain.

“Earlier this year, in partnership with a range of public and private stakeholders, the Property Council ran its Fridays in the City campaign to draw attention to the importance of the CBD.

“What we heard loud and clear during the campaign was the role of leadership in shifting worker habits and creating a physical environment that people actively choose to be part of.

“As we continue the race to reach nationally-agreed targets, it is imperative the leaders in our community work together to boost vaccination rates, so that our state can safely and swiftly open up to the rest of the nation- and the world.

“Over the coming weeks, the Property Council will once again be engaging with our city’s leaders to examine new and innovative ways to both lift vaccination take-up and attract activity back to our CBD.”

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