The Property Council has called on Melbourne’s business community and the Victorian Government to rally around ‘Fab Fridays’.
The campaign follows the Property Council of Australia’s latest office occupancy survey, released earlier this month, which revealed Melbourne’s CBD recorded only 24 per cent occupancy in the final week of February, compared to 31 per cent at the end of January.
Fab Fridays are expected to launch on April 23, and follows the start of the AFL season, the return of the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and a variety of arts and cultural offerings.
The Property Council’s Victorian Executive Director Danni Hunter said the campaign was designed to bring back the excitement of being in the CBD on a Friday.
“Fridays are about celebrating the week and anticipating the weekend,” Ms Hunter said.
“COVID has changed so many things about our life, but the joy of catching up in person with your colleagues and friends is irreplaceable.
“With only 24 per cent of workers back in Melbourne’s CBD, and hospitality businesses and retailers missing much-needed foot traffic, the Property Council has come up with the idea to get people back to the office on Fab Fridays, to play, stay and spend in the city into the evening and weekend.”
Ms Hunter said Fab Fridays would bring together the business community and government to encourage Melbourne’s CBD workers to return to the city centre on a Friday “in a safe and structured way”.
The campaign calls on office owners, employers, cafes, restaurants and retailers to get on board by staging early morning activities such as group yoga and offer free or discounted food and coffee options in the office.
It also calls on employers, including the State Government, to make a ‘4pm knock-off pledge’ and encourages CBD businesses and workers to showcase Fridays in the city on social media.
“We are calling on CBD bosses to make the 4pm knock-off pledge, encouraging workers to leave the office together and either go for a walk through the city or enjoy a cheeky after-work drink at a city pub,” Ms Hunter said.
She also suggested that introducing free public transport would also encourage Melburnians to venture into the CBD on Friday nights.
“Melbourne’s CBD is the heart of our state’s economy. Without a significant increase in office occupancy, our modelling shows Victoria could lose out on more than $2.5 billion of economic activity,” Ms Hunter said.
“This activity supports tens of thousands of jobs, especially in the retail and hospitality industries.”
According to the Property Council, Melbourne CBD supports more than 48,000 public sector jobs and as such, Ms Hunter has called on the Victorian Government to “make a concerted effort” to encourage people back to the office on Fridays, and to “come to the table” with their own incentives and initiatives.
“There’s no better time to get back to the city and it will all start with Fab Fridays. Our city needs you, Melbourne needs you,” Ms Hunter said.
“Let’s get back into our wonderful city starting with Fab Fridays.”
The Property Council said similar initiatives may be rolled out elsewhere around the country.
Businesses and organisations interested in taking part in Melbourne’s Fab Fridays can get in touch with the Property Council team at firstname.lastname@example.org