Edmonton leads Canada in return to office recovery in Q3, according to real estate report

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Edmonton leads Canada in back-to-office trends, says a new report from real estate firm Avison Young.


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By the end of the third quarter, 35 percent of the workforce in Edmonton was returning to downtown offices compared to pre-pandemic levels, the report released last week said.

“There is the will to go back to the offices and there would not be so much abandonment of office spaces that people had speculated,” said Puneeta McBryan, executive director of the Downtown Business Association.

The “community atmosphere” of the city center, where office workers enjoy meeting workers from other companies is a factor behind the return, he said. Edmonton has easier access to the city center with personal vehicles compared to other major Canadian cities where people depend more on public transportation, he said.

However, the report notes that downtown office use remains approximately 53% below pre-pandemic levels.


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The trend is driven by other positive flows, such as a 20% increase in the volume of real estate transactions in 2021 compared to 2020.

Avison Young cited activities such as the Terra Center for Teen Parents, which sold its downtown location to buy a larger office further west, the Edmonton Catholic Separate School Division, which bought a new building in East Edmonton, and the Edmonton Police Association. which sold its central location for a larger facility in the Northwest.

McBryan pointed out to the real estate services company Savills that announced in april he was opening a new office in Edmonton, near 124 Street.

As pandemic-related restrictions are expected to be relaxed as vaccination rates rise, Avison Young said it expects 2022 to be a “very busy year” for office market transactions.


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McBryan is equally optimistic, noting that some long-term office leases in the city have been renegotiated in the past six months and new leases have been signed.

“One high-profile company is moving to a different space downtown and another is making a significant investment in the renovation. Staying in the center shows that they are confident. But I don’t want to name them before they make official announcements, ”he said.

As workers have adapted to working from home, McBryan believes employers will increasingly introduce more flexible arrangements as employees return to the office.

Some may ask employees to come to the office only for certain days, and cubicles may become less permanent, with workers reserving cubicles only for the days they will enter.

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