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In the wake of COVID-19, Australian offices have undergone a significant shift – and things aren’t likely to change anytime soon. A new report by Knight Frank indicates that hybrid workstyles are poised to become a mainstay of corporate life over the next three years, in a retreat from purely remote work.

The report highlights a shift in the priorities of Australian businesses when it comes to office spaces. Rather than opting for solely remote work, most companies are leaning towards a hybrid approach. This includes both in-person and remote work, allowing employees greater flexibility in their lives.

According to the survey conducted by Knight Frank, 45% of Australian businesses plan to increase their office space, while 12% intend to maintain their current space requirements.

This survey found that 57% of companies are committed to sustaining or expanding their office footprint, while 45% of respondents anticipate downsizing their office spaces.

Ben Burston, Chief Economist at Knight Frank Australia, said these statistics are an indication of businesses gearing up for a shift in their operations.

He said there are now significant complexities in the post-COVID-19 world, including factors such as uncertainty in long-term workplace strategies, the adoption of new technologies, tight labour markets, and economic volatility. Despite these challenges, Burston said that Australian corporations still regard offices as critical, with a majority foreseeing a hybrid office-first approach.

“While the landscape is more complex, it’s clear that Australian corporates still perceive that offices have a critical role to play, with the majority of respondents envisioning a hybrid of office-first approach to workplace strategy and few expecting that remote working will be the predominant workstyle,” Mr Burston said.

The report found that most surveyed businesses believe they will adopt a hybrid workstyle within the next three years. Only 24% anticipate maintaining an office-dominant workplace, while just 6% expect remote work to be the primary mode.

The changing landscape of Australian workplaces is not solely focused on workstyles; it also encompasses the quality of office spaces. Lee Elliot, Global Head of Occupier Research at Knight Frank, said that Australian corporate occupiers have multifaceted priorities when choosing offices.

These priorities include enhanced collaboration, employee well-being, talent attraction and retention. He touched on the role of real estate in promoting collaboration and employee engagement. “Real estate plays a key role in driving collaboration and employee engagement, with every single respondent indicating it was a strategic device for their business,” Mr Elliot said.

According to Mr Elliot, as companies seek to meet these diverse objectives, they are increasingly moving towards premium-grade offices. He also said companies are willing to invest in amenities like cycle storage, food and beverage offerings and facilities supporting mental well-being to create attractive workspaces for their employees.