Jobs are at the centre of the lives and livelihoods of citizens and, equally jobs are at the centre of the economic health of a city. The economic recovery and future growth of Sydney as a global 24-hour city must be jobs led.

A jobs focused development of a 24-hour economy for Sydney means delivering initiatives that facilitate recovery and stability of employment in the hospitality and tourism sectors, programmes that foster, attract, and retain talent and a planning framework that stimulates investment in infrastructure including a dedicated SEPP for arts and cultural institutions.

A jobs focused development of a 24-hour economy also means enabling and energizing a workforce that can function equally during the day and the night. To put in place policies, programmes and processes to support cross industry employment participation in the night requires an understanding of who currently works at night, the experiences, and barriers to working outside the traditional 8am to 6pm, as well as capitalising on the opportunities to expand the night workforce.

To facilitate efficient use of capital, public and private investment in enabling infrastructure, and service provision, this Paper takes a precinct approach. It examines two Sydney precincts in the central business district that typically have a large number of people working in them both day and night. Through the data collected and analysed this Paper assesses how these precincts are performing as both a place and a time and how well they accommodate and support a 24-hour economy.

Using the six Key Moves outlined in Night Shift: Planning for a 24-hour Sydney, the Paper then provides a blueprint that can be applied to realise the full economic potential of these precincts and for other precincts across Greater Sydney.

Utilising the expertise of Urbis, pre-covid human movement data and activity levels in two key precincts was collected and analysed to provide the underpinning evidence for the way forward.

Research methodology

To understand the number and movement patterns of night workers in the Northern Gateway and Camperdown Health Education Research Precinct (CHERP), Urbis analysed human movement data.

Based on algorithmic programming, the researchers identified each device’s common day time and evening locations. Night workers were defined as those people with a common night time location – once residential locations in the same area were extracted from the dataset.

Night time work is not isolated to those who work overnight, or start after 6 pm, it also includes those day time workers who finish in the evening. For these latter workers to be classified as night workers, they needed to be at their place of work at least 2 hours per day after 6pm, 5 days a week.

To support the data collection, a series of focus group sessions were conducted to gain qualitative information on the experiences, challenges and aspirations of night time workers. These focus groups included participantsfrom the financial services, hospitality, and legal and professional services sectors as well as local government, higher education and health.




Embrace the hybrid working day to encourage employees to stagger their time in the office with some starting earlier and others working later. This will create a diverse night worker economy and a better distribution of activity throughout the day and night, maximising the use of asset and infrastructure to ensure the CBD functions more productively and efficiently.

Support the hybrid working day by providing extended transport services earlier and later in the day. By encouraging earlier and later transport options, we can reduce the peak hour crush on our networks, enhance health and safety and better support those who work the night shift.

Developers, property owners and Governments should continue to work together to ensure that, in supporting greater intensification and agglomeration, we do not crowd out other activities and enterprises which make places more resilient, interesting, and vibrant.

Ensure our planning and approval process encourages more diverse activities and uses in new developments. The economic monocultures of the traditional office tower need to be replaced with developments which ensure an active street frontage and diversity of day and night time activities and services.

The CBD economy needs to end the complacency which has seen it suffer the worst of the economic downturn induced by the pandemic. It will need to work harder and offer more if it is to attract the best and brightest to work there. A return to business as usual won’t work.