Tuesday 17th of March will forever be etched into my memory as one of those moments of where were you when….? This was the day, as a business we decided to begin working from home for the foreseeable future due to COVID-19 and perhaps forever. Fast forward 6-months in Melbourne and return to the office isn’t looking so bad after all.
Much has been said about people escaping the city in their droves and how everybody will be working from home moving forward, let’s take a closer look at what we can realistically expect post COVID-19 or COVID normal.
A recent report released by Transurban titled Urban Mobility Trends from COVID-19 in July shows that 86% of people expect to do most of their work back in their company’s workplace. Whilst COVID-19 will change the way workplaces operate the office is not obsolete. Demographer, Bernard Salt recently spoke at the Industrial Commercial Partners webinar about working from home shifting from 5% pre-COVID to around 15% post COVID.
While occupiers may look to reduce their office footprint, office buildings will undoubtedly play a part in businesses innovating and collaborating, we no longer will be crammed into space like we once were. One of the bigger challenges that Australia (and Victoria) faces, is migration. In the year to 31 December 2019, ABS statistics show overseas migration arrivals were down 0.2% on the previous year whereas migration departures was up 14.4%. With less people migrating to Australia than ever before in 2020 the demand for talent across many industries will become greater than ever before.
This may lead to more flexibility for remote workers, but as long as people are social creatures who enjoy eating out along with arts, entertainment or sport we will see people coming into the workplace before venturing on their evenings out. If the current lock-down in Melbourne is anything to go by, once it is safe and legal to do so, people will vote with their feet and we will see them return to the central business districts that offer more than just a place of work.
In the next 6, 12 or 18 months (or whenever it may be) I look forward to combining the flexibility and freedom to work from home and the office.