The return to the office is happening and it will be good news for some ASX stocks and REITs.

It has been a very gradual process but the Property Council of Australia yesterday claimed it was in full swing.

It estimates that in March, Melbourne’s offices returned to 35 per cent up from 13 per cent in December while Sydney is at 50 per cent, Brisbane at 63 per cent while Adelaide, Hobart and Perth are all over 70 per cent.

The council’s boss Ken Morrison declared while the shift was underway there as some way to go and it was key to Australia’s COVID-19 recovery.

“City centres need to be driving the next stage of economic recovery as government stimulus and support measures wind down,” he said.

“Millions of jobs and hundreds of billions of dollars in broader economic activity are reliant on a high level of activity within Australia’s CBDs.

“It is critical that policymakers and employers come on the journey with industry over the coming months to boost office occupancy levels.”

The return to the office is good news for ASX stocks and REITs that rely on commercial offices.

 

Return to the office beneficiaries on the ASX

One is serviced office provider Victory Offices (ASX:VOL) which listed at $2 per share in 2019 but is now just 25 cents.

The company has claimed for many months the impact would be temporary but was nonetheless heavily hit having to cut its casual workforce by 40 per cent and raise $15 million.

Fellow serviced office stock ServCorp (ASX:SRV) has also been hit, albeit to a lesser degree, and has also said it can be part of the new norm.

Last month when it released its financial results it said when the pandemic ends “flexible workspaces will be more important than ever”.

Two larger office providers are Dexus (ASX:DXS) and Mirvac (ASX:MGR) which both have market capitalisations above $9 billion.

The latter of these stocks noted in its recent financial results office demand was below pre-COVID highs and these may never return. But it claimed modern high-quality assets would outperform their peers going forward.

Then there are a a handful of Real Estate Investment Trusts (REITs) that have particularly high exposure to commercial offices.

The two with the most optimistic investors are Centuria Office REIT (ASX:COF) which has gained 21 per cent in the last 12 months and Elanor (ASX:ECF) which is up 11 per cent.