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Businesses pulling back on sublet space as return to office looms: report

Last Updated Jul 19, 2021 at 11:54 am EDT

CALGARY — A new report suggests Toronto businesses are making plans to call employees back to the office.

Commercial real estate firm Avison Young says companies that were trying to shed downtown office space on the sublet market are reversing course.

It says available sublet space fell for the first time in six quarters, ending the quarter at 3.2 million square feet or 32 per cent of available space downtown. Avison Young says this is a sign that some Toronto businesses are anticipating more employees will return to the office soon.

Some companies including TMX Group and Intelex Technologies have withdrawn sublet space from the market in part or altogether.

Toronto’s downtown office towers remain mostly empty in the face of continued COVID-19 restrictions. The Avison Young report says the downtown office vacancy rate hit a new all-time high of 7.3 per cent in the second quarter.

But some companies have already offered a glimpse into what return-to-work strategies could look like. Sun Life is allowing staff flexibility to decide their own work arrangements, while Apple has asked its employees to return to the office three days a week starting in the fall.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 19, 2021.

The Canadian Press