Victorian Chamber survey offers clearer picture on return to office

06 June 2022

The Victorian Chamber has released the findings of the first detailed survey of Melbourne CBD-based businesses on the return of office workers since COVID-19 restrictions were lifted.

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The survey asked businesses about their experiences with staff returning to the office to help better understand the impact on Melbourne’s CBD.

The Victorian Chamber canvassed small, medium, family and large businesses across a range of sectors in Melbourne’s CBD. Among its key findings:

  • 42 per cent of employees are working in the office one to two days each week and 25 per cent three to four days
  • 19 per cent are working in the office five days a week and 14 per cent of employees have not returned to the office since restrictions were lifted
  • 39 per cent of businesses have not introduced a required minimum number of days employees must work from the office, while 22 per cent have asked employees to return a minimum three days per week
  • 69 per cent of respondents indicated they do not expect employees to return full-time to the office
  • 34 per cent of respondents said work-life balance was the main reason for not returning to the office, followed by length of commute (29 per cent) and fear of contracting COVID-19 (15 per cent)
  • The majority of businesses have introduced incentives to encourage employees back to the office, with 22 per cent offering team drinks or meals, 10 per cent offering free coffee, five per cent offering fitness or wellness sessions and five per cent subsidised transport
  • 48 per cent of businesses said they’d seen an increase in productivity when employees worked from the office.

The complete survey can be provided on request by contacting the Victorian Chamber media team.

To be attributed to Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Paul Guerra:

“This is a crucial, point-in-time, survey as it provides the first detailed look at the reality of the return to office situation in Melbourne’s CBD and it’s largely a good news story. The results show the return to office has been a gradual process and a large percentage of businesses have adopted hybrid working arrangements.

“What’s encouraging is that people are coming back to the office and embracing the social connection and enhanced collaboration and learning that in-person working offers. It’s also good for our CBD businesses that benefit from greater trade.

“As we head further into winter, it may be some time before we know exactly where the level of office-based working will settle. The survey tells us that people want flexibility and that’s what a lot of businesses are offering. We believe it’s up to individual businesses to determine their working arrangements and this is clearly what they are doing.”

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