Is Melbourne ready to return to the office?

Is Melbourne ready to return to the office?
Brendan Rees

Victoria’s tourism minister says he would like to see more office workers return to their desks but conceded he didn’t expect his staff or others to be back five days a week.

The Minister for Tourism Steve Dimopoulos made the remarks during a tourism and transport forum in Southbank on September 16, which also discussed the government’s role in keeping Victoria as a leader in events and sports.

Mr Dimopoulos said although he was back full-time, he didn’t necessarily expect his staff or all others to do so.

The state government announced in September it would lift its working from home recommendation and encourage people to safely return to the office.

Melbourne’s occupancy was 38 per cent for the month of July, according to the latest Property Council of Australia’s, the lowest of any Australian capital city, while a new RMIT study titled Are people ready for a Digital CBD? showed 12.5 per cent of people were working full-time in the CBD on any given week.


The report, based on a survey of 2000 Melbourne residents, also found those who worked, reported typically spending on average of just over three days a week in their primary workplace.


The survey, conducted in April this year, revealed the shift to working from home had been “fuelled by technology advances and lifestyle preferences, among other factors”.

“The benefits they found most important on average when working from home were a comfortable environment to work from, no commute time, flexibility, and time with family,” the report said.

The City of Melbourne’s Deputy Lord Mayor Nicholas Reece also addressed the tourism and transport forum, saying Melbourne could be “both bigger and better if we get the settings right”.

“In public transport that means greater frequency and span of hours, new connections, fewer delays, better interchanges via improved design for central city train stations, tram and bus stops,” he said.

“To accommodate forecast patronage growth, we also need to see a commitment to Metro 2 and reconfiguration of the City Loop as soon as the Metro Tunnel opens.”  

“When it comes to active transport, we want to see improved cycling and pedestrian links – we know that protected bike lanes significantly improve safety outcomes and are the key to encouraging more people to cycle to the city.”

Cr Reece reiterated the council’s ambitious agenda for the movement of people and liveability with its transformative city-shaping projects like the Greenline project and Queen Victoria Market redevelopment.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry chief executive Paul Guerra strongly encouraged businesses to have conversations with their staff and make appropriate arrangements to safely return to the office. •

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