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Does the rise in people working from home mean a decline in office space?

By Greg Bell

With advancing technology and organisations fully operating in the cloud, working from home is now more possible than ever. However, it appears as though these changes in where, when and how employees work have yet to exhibit an overwhelming effect on office real estate demand in Australia. Let's look at the factors behind this, and how commercial real estate is evolving in response to today's workforce changes:

Working from home: The benefits
A 2019 study completed by Indeed surveyed over 200 Australian employers on the benefits they've experienced from offering remote work for their employees. The results included:

  • More productive employees (67%)
  • Improved morale (64%)
  • Reduced absenteeism and employee turnover (57%)
  • Operational cost savings (51%)

Employees surveyed also believe remote working makes them more productive (49%), allows for a better work-life balance (80%), and have experienced reduced stress as a result (58%). Yet while the benefits of remote working are clear, for both employers and employees, the need for physical office spaces still exists. On the other hand, what those spaces look like and how they are being designed, is certainly changing, as well.

Australia's commercial property market holding steady
The recently released Knight Frank Outlook 2020 Report, which analyses the economic trends that will affect the Australian property market, has revealed that lower interest rates will see an increased demand for commercial property assets in 2020, with "capital growth expected to pick up to 5.8% in 2020 and 6.4% in 2021." Specific to office vacancies, the report also revealed big plans for new offices in the Melbourne CBD over the next two years.

This research indicates that Australia's commercial real estate market is proving to remain stable – and is, in fact, growing in particular areas – regardless of the increase in remote working.

How office spaces are evolving with flexible working
Right now the Australian workforce is dealing with an interesting mix of having the technological ability to work from anywhere while still needing a physical space to go on occasion. Office real estate is using that mix to design new spaces that aren't necessarily built for a Monday-through-Friday, 9-to-5 kind of use. Rather, new office spaces are reflecting places where remote workers can go to on those increasingly rare occasions when they do need to meet with other colleagues, much like a coffee shop or cafe.

Are you looking for a new and unique office space that appeals to today's flexible workers? Contact one of the mortgage brokers at Ray White Surfers Paradise today.

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