Sydney’s post lockdown office visitation recovers 50% faster than 2020

New data analysis highlights a return to office snapback, with Sydney’s re-emergence from this year’s lockdown being 50% faster than last year. 

CBRE’s first Office Visitation Insights report suggests that occupier “return to work” templates could be contributing to the city’s quicker recovery, which is estimated at four to six weeks, roughly half the time it took for businesses to reopen after the initial lockdown in March 2020.

The report analyses the 95 largest buildings in the Sydney CBD by net lettable area, using real-time visitation and demographic data from leading analytics platform Pathzz to provide comprehensive insights into consumer visitation and behaviours.

It highlights that safe and well workplaces, a variety of collaboration spaces and access to transport and amenities influence people’s decision to return to the office.

“Looking at the Pathzz visitation data following Sydney’s most recent lockdown, it’s interesting to see that office reactivation and recovery is much faster than in 2020,” CBRE Senior Research Analyst Nick Baring said.

“The rebound time has reduced by half and can be attributed to a number of factors, such as occupiers being more efficient and drawing on previous return to office plans, NSW reaching its vaccination threshold and having a greater understanding of the virus.”

While heading back to the office has held appeal across the demographics, millennials have been slower to respond, needing more encouragement to return to the city.

The 20–39-year age bracket recorded a 5% decline in share of total visitations post-restrictions when compared to pre-pandemic levels, as they continue to embrace work from home policies.

Mr Baring said this underlined the critical need for city activation strategies such as the NSW Government and City of Sydney launch of a $3 million program to revitalise the Sydney CBD through summer, with grants of up to $50,000 are available to support partnerships that attract and entertain visitors.
Other initiatives include the Big for Small Campaign and Dine & Discover to underpin the reopening of small businesses in the CBD, while also aiming to encourage employees to return to the office.

CBRE’s analysis also highlights that some locations that are snapping back faster than others.

Pathzz data shows that 14 of the buildings analysed had significantly higher visitation for a variety of reasons, including having essential service tenants, being close to food and retail precincts, and proximity to public transport options. 

“The best performing buildings tend to be close to retail precincts and public transport outlets. However, it’s important to remember that individual building visitation is affected by the return-to-work plans and policies of their major occupiers,” Mr Baring added.

Interestingly, the data also shows that buses and ferries have had an increased share of the CBD office commute at the expense of driving and trains. This lends support to market views that initial return to work favoured shorter commutes. Also, while future of work commentary tipped that Tuesday through to Thursday would be prime office visitation days, the Pathzz visitation data paints a more even picture, with Friday being just as popular as other business days.

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About Warwick Petschack

Warwick has over 25 years of property investment and management experience. Principally responsible as Managing Director for Capital Management Australia and Joint Managing Director for Chauvel Capital Partners and Editor of Australian Property Markets News.

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