A survey indicating more than half of full-time employees want a hybridised virtual and in-office working model is not helping a national bid to lure workers back to the capital city centres.
According to a McKinsey survey of about 5000 full-time corporate employees, more than half of respondents wanted a flexible hybrid working solution post-pandemic, while just over a third wanted to work in the office.
The number of people wanting to work remotely grew 3 per cent to 11 per cent.
The changing face of work models was addressed by Brisbane Lord Mayor Adrian Schrinner when he spoke to the National Cabinet on behalf of the Council of Capital City Lord Mayors, outlining the issues facing the country’s CBDs and what needed to be done to kickstart their economies.
The Kepler Retail Index for the week ending June 6 showed passer-by traffic was still 26.5 per cent down year-on-year from the same time in 2019, excluding Victoria, which remained in lockdown.
Schrinner said the CBDs were the “beating heart of Australia’s economy” and contributed 69 per cent to the nation’s gross domestic product before Covid-19.
“We can’t ignore the plight of our city centres … if we’re going to get Australia’s economy firing on all cylinders again, we have to get people back into city centres and using public transport,” he said.
“The working-from-home phenomena may suit many people but we can’t ignore the fact it has an economic consequence.
“Councils have been undertaking a range of initiatives, including waiving rates, fast-tracking maintenance and providing hospitality discounts, to help CBD businesses and to entice people back.”
Schrinner said while office occupancy rates had lifted from record lows last year, data indicated growth was plateauing.
He said traffic congestion continued to be a problem along major arterials as people chose to drive instead of use public transport to commute.
The Council of Capital City Lord Mayors has joined the growing chorus of groups calling for the federal government to expand the use of travel bubbles and fast-track the return of international students.
At the end of the third quarter in March, Melbourne’s office vacancy rate had quadrupled from 3.4 per cent to 14.3 per cent over 12 months.
Sydney’s office vacancy rate doubled to 12.1 per cent, while the already double-digit vacancy rates in other capital cities continued to increase with Perth recording a 20.2 per cent office vacancy rate.