The post-pandemic commute: the effects of more working from home in Victoria
While there are many changes still to unfold from the pandemic, speculation is rife about the longer-term effects on Victoria’s cities and regions if more people work from home, more often.
Infrastructure Victoria has released The post-pandemic commute: the effects of more working from home in Victoria. Our research looks at how an ongoing preference for working from home some of the time, for those who can, might influence how Victorians live, work and commute in the longer-term.
Based on a third of workers working from home 2 to 3 days a week by 2036, Victoria’s population will be more spread out around Melbourne, and around regional cities including Ballarat, Bendigo and Geelong, as people factor in a lower commute time-cost and seek out the lifestyle benefits of a tree or sea change.
Our modelling also shows faster jobs growth in inner Melbourne than might have otherwise occurred as businesses continue to locate where they can access the largest workforce catchment, harness the benefits of being physically near each other and leverage the existing transport network.
In light of the findings, we have made several recommendations to the Victorian Government, including:
- Timely delivery of green and social infrastructure for Melbourne’s new growth areas, such as interconnected open space networks, urban tree canopies, aquatic recreation centres and libraries.
- Greater planning protection for peri-urban areas of environmental sensitivity, bushfire risk, or agricultural value.
- Increase measures to improve the energy efficiency of homes to reduce household energy bills and network demand.
- Continue support for more homes in established areas to reduce additional population pressure in new growth areas and peri-urban areas, including social housing to ensure equitable access.
- Focus employment support outside of central Melbourne on a limited number of priority suburban hubs, considering the multiple factors driving urban population dispersal and employment centralisation.
- Reform transport network pricing to manage congestion and get the most out of our existing roads and public transport.
This report and supporting technical report are part of a research series into the short and long-term effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the behaviour of Victorians, including where they choose to live and work, how they will commute and the implications for land and transport use.
Transporting Melbourne’s recovery
Released earlier this year Transporting Melbourne’s recovery looked at immediate policy actions to help get the city moving again.
This report and the supporting technical report found Victoria’s roads could become heavily congested as people avoided public transport, which has occurred both times as restrictions were eased, including over the summer of 2020-21 and more recently from late October 2021.
Infrastructure Victoria recommended a range of policy measures that should be considered by the Victorian Government to balance the safety and performance of the transport system with economic recovery. This includes flexible start and finish times, permanent off-peak discounts for public transport, cheaper fares for buses and safer cycling infrastructure.