Time to return to the office

Canberra businesses are calling out for ACT office workers to go back to their city offices.

As Covid restrictions are eased in Canberra, business leaders say that it’s time for more workers to head back to office to support small business and the economy. ACT public servants can lead the way by working once more from their offices in Civic, Belconnen and other parts of the city.

“Getting back into the office is a simple yet powerful way to help local business across the ACT,” Canberra Business Chamber CEO Graham Catt said today.

“The best way to support business is through genuine demand for goods and services. When public servants and others are in the office, their daily spending provides an important boost to local cafes shops, restaurants, retail stores, transport providers and many other businesses.”

Australian Hotels Association CEO Anthony Brierley echoed the call. “While employees may enjoy the flexibility of working from home, the reality is that these arrangements are a drag on the local economy and on struggling small businesses.  Continuing a broad-brush working-from-home policy jeopardises the ability of the daytime hospitality industry to work at all.

“Returning to offices would provide a powerful economic boost for our city, and comes without any expense to the ACT Government.”

The Property Council recently surveyed its members and estimated that just over 40% of offices are occupied at the moment.  “This low rate of workers back in the city is significantly impacting many of the businesses on ground floors of office buildings, in particular those who rely on public servants for trade.  With many of our landlords giving significant rent abatement to these small businesses, the broad brush approach to remain working from home is taking money out of the economy and affecting everyone,” ACT Executive Director of the Property Council of Australia, Adina Cirson, said.

The Master Builders Association also backed the call. “Canberra’s jobs now and in the future are in the private sector,” Master Builders ACT CEO Michael Hopkins said, “so we need to ensure that they are strongly supported wherever practical by our territory government. This is a simple, safe measure which will help many of our businesses to survive, and to keep employing other Canberrans in jobs.”