The Australian cities where working from home is still out of favour
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The Australian cities where working from home is still out of favour

Companies are leasing premium office space to entice workers back, but employees in one major capital are holding out

By Bronwyn Allen
Fri, May 10, 2024 9:49amGrey Clock 2 min

The post-COVID return to CBD offices continues across Australia, with the average office occupancy rate climbing to 76 percent of pre-pandemic levels in the first quarter of 2024, according to new CBRE figures. Workers are gradually responding to their employers’ requests to attend their offices more regularly to enable greater collaboration with workmates. The occupancy rate has risen from 70 percent in the December quarter and 67 percent 12 months ago.

Occupancy rates improved across all capital cities during the March quarter, with Perth and Adelaide maintaining the strongest rates of 93 percent and 88 percent respectively. CBRE analysis suggests shorter commuting times and less structured working-from-home arrangements in these cities have contributed to higher rates of return. Brisbane’s occupancy rate is 86 percent of pre-COVID levels, weighed down by a slower return within the public sector, which represents 35 percent of the city’s office space. This same trend is being seen in Canberra, where the occupancy rate is just 66 percent.

In Sydney, the occupancy rate has risen to 77 percent, largely due to major banks and professional services firms pushing for more staff to return to the office this year. There has been a significant increase in workers returning to offices in Melbourne, with the occupancy rate up from 57 percent last quarter to 62 percent now. However, this is still the lowest attendance rate in the capital cities.

Businesses are increasingly pushing workers to return to the office because they are concerned working from home over multiple years will have a negative long-term impact on company-wide productivity. Part of the problem is new employees not having regular access to senior staff so they can learn and work more effectively and productively. CBRE says lower levels of collaboration and interaction reduce innovation, which is a particular concern for technology firms. They were quick to embrace remote working during COVID, but are now seeing dampened creativity among staff.

Tuesday is the peak day for attendance at CBD offices and Friday is the lowest day. Two-thirds of organisations that have moved their corporate headquarters since COVID have chosen to upgrade to premium office buildings, according to CBRE’s research. Premium blocks typically feature retail, restaurants, and recreational amenities on the ground floor, and command a higher rent. Companies are deciding it’s worth the cost to entice workers backand keep them feeling happy and engaged.

Jenny Liu, Director of Workplace Consulting at CBRE, said a vibrant workplace experience is essential.

“A workplace experience isn’t just environment, cool furniture and tech anymore,” she said. “It’s the culture, ways of working, leadership, and how vibrancy is created.”

Some companies are using apps that inform staff who will be in the office tomorrow. CBRE Research Manager Thomas Biglands said:

“It’s important that you achieve a critical mass of visitation so that employees come in and feel as though the office is vibrant and full,” he said.

Some firms are linking salary and promotions to office attendance to reward those workers providing higher contributions to corporate culture and mentoring younger staff.

The rate of return to offices in Australia is much higher than in the United States, where occupancy rates have remained at about 50 percent over the past year. CBRE analysis suggests this may be due to better public transport, shorter commutes and lower inner-city crime rates in Australia.



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The cost of owning a home in an LGBTQ-friendly area in the U.S. comes with a hefty price premium of almost 50%, according to a report Wednesday from Redfin.

In a metropolitan area with state laws protecting LGBTQ people from housing discrimination, a home buyer needs to earn an annual income of $150,364 to afford a median priced home. That’s 46.8% more than the $102,435 buyers need to earn to afford a home in places without such protections, the online property portal said.

For the purposes of their report, a metro is considered to have protections if the state it’s located in prohibits housing discrimination based on sexual orientation and/or gender identity, Redfin explained. In the case of metro areas which span multiple states, Redfin considered the metro to have protections if at least one of the states it’s located in prohibits such discrimination.

“LGBTQ+ Americans face disproportionately large barriers to homeownership,” said Redfin senior economist Elijah de la Campa in the report. “On top of paying a premium to live somewhere that feels safe, many LGBTQ+ house hunters are earning less than the typical U.S. worker, and face discrimination while shopping for homes despite laws that prohibit it.”

The locales where individuals identifying as LGBTQ make up the largest share of the adult population are also those where housing is the least affordable, the report found.

In San Francisco, where 6.7% of the adult population identifies as LGBTQ—the highest share of any of the 54 metropolitan areas Redfin analyzed—only 5.1% of listings last year were affordable based on the median local income, one of the lowest shares in the country.

In Portland, Oregon, which had the second highest share of LGBTQ adults at 6%, only 6.7% of homes for sale were affordable; in Austin, Texas, where 5.9% of the adult population identifies as LGBTQ, 2.9% of listings were affordable.

And in Seattle and Los Angeles, where LGBTQ adults make up 5.2% and 5.1% of the population, 4.8% and 1.9% of homes for sale were affordable, respectively.

All but one of those top LGBTQ metros—Austin—has state-level protections, the report said.

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11 ACRES ROAD, KELLYVILLE, NSW

This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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