Singapore, Hong Kong Offices Lively Again
ASIA PACIFIC – Employees are again filling up offices in Asian commercial hubs such as Singapore and Hong Kong, while those in major cities in the United States face difficulties in attracting to staff to return to their workplaces, reported The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) on Monday afternoon (8 August, SGT).
According to Savills’ Senior Research Director Simon Smith, the office revival in Hong Kong is being driven by its efficient transportation system and small houses that often house multiple generations. Moreover, offices provide snacks and free air conditioning during the hot summer months, while there is after-hours entertainment close by.
Meanwhile, Singapore’s government relaxed COVID-19-related rules in April and stopped requiring people to produce proof of vaccination when accessing their office. This has enabled companies to bring more staff back to their workplace, and many were willing to return to the office as commute times on public transport are usually less than an hour in the Southeast Asian nation.
While overall data are not available, roughly 70 percent of employees at One Raffles Quay in Singapore’s central business district (CBD) have returned, based on an estimate by the manager of a real estate investment trust (REIT) that partially owns the commercial property, ARA Trust Management (Suntec) Ltd.
In addition, data from the Urban Redevelopment Authority showed that office rents in Singapore’s central region edged up by 2.4 percent in Q2 2022 on a quarterly basis.
“There is an increase in business confidence and occupiers are looking to lock in rents given that the office rental upcycle has taken hold,” noted Lam Chern Woon, Research Head at Singapore-based property consulting firm Edmund Tie.
Furthermore, a CBRE poll involving over 150 Asian corporates that was published in spring showed that over 25 percent of employers won’t permit remote working, while around 60 percent intend to offer some remote-work time, but within that group 50 percent said they expected their employees to work most or all of the time in the office.