CBD to bounce back

Adelaide CBD to thrive again says Beer

This is an InDaily article from Andrew Beer, the Executive Dean of UniSA Business. He reckons Adelaide’s CBD will bounce back. The real story is will UniSA survive? I’ve edited it down. The full version can be found here.

COVID-19 has transformed virtually every dimension of life in Australia. Many have argued COVID-19 will mean the end of the city centre, as more and more of us work from home.

More than 100,000 people work in Adelaide’s CBD each day. The absence of office workers could devastate cafes, retailers and other small businesses dependent on them.

And the main reasons employed Australians worked from home in February 2021 were COVID-19 restrictions (12%) and the availability of flexible work arrangements (11%). Employed women (17%) were more likely than employed men (11%) to want to increase the volume of work done from home.

Australians working in ‘hands-on’ industries were much less likely to work from home, including just 16% in Manufacturing (16%), 15% of Transport & Storage (15%) workers and 12% of retail employees.

Many employees have found they like working from home but business leaders are far less bullish. Early in the pandemic, working from home delivered productivity gains, but these have now waned and businesses report it harder to implement change when personnel are distant from each other. Others are at risk of work-related injuries in the home.

Some have argued that our metropolitan areas will stagnate, or even experience a loss of population, as households flee to the countryside.

But most of this growth was caused by young people living in regional areas postponing their relocation to a capital, rather than metropolitan residents fleeing to the country to experience ‘the good life’.

Most experts predict we will see a return to the long-term trend of big-city growth once the economy opens up. For the last 60 years, our major centres have grown relative to other parts of Australia because they are attractive places to live, work and study.

Cities will remain at the centre of the Australian economy, but we might witness a revival of the suburbs as something more than dormitories. The embrace of working from home would be a key factor in that change, but on balance it is likely to be a muted impact.

So Adelaide’s CBD is neither dead, nor in terminal decline. There is no doubt change is coming, but it has always been a place of ongoing transformation.

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