After Covid-19, how often will be work in offices vs working from home in Australia?

Hi folks. I apologise if it is a bit early in some parts of the world to contemplate work after Covid-19. However here in Melbourne (Australia) after a very strict lockdown for many months, with zero new Covid-19 cases for 5+ weeks, the state government is allowing up to 25% of private sector workers to return to offices now, with up to 50% allowed to return from 11 January 2021. I spent two days in the office last week and observed that there were VERY few people working in Melbourne offices last week - I saw zero people from other businesses in our normally busy ground floor reception area (50+ storey building) and saw very few people at usually busy lunch places. Our business is a software development consultancy, we build/maintain software for large clients, 100% of our people have worked from home since March apart from rare/brief, carefully managed exceptions. Our staff engagement has gone from 80% to 84% this year. One of our clients has indicated a possible return to the office from February 2021, another has told their people and our consultants that they may work in the office from Tuesdays until Thursdays, working from home Mondays and Fridays indefinitely. Some of our people don’t wish to return to the office ever, some would like to do some days from home, some from the office. I’m really curious to hear what other Australian businesses are seeing, hearing and doing regarding working from home as we enter “Covid-normal” operations, please. We will need to balance the needs of our clients with equity and safety for our people.

Hi Cam!
Our workplace has our Head Office in Melbourne CBD, which previously had roughly 120 staff working from the office. We are currenlty encouraging staff to work one day a week from the office. This is to get them back in and working with their teams but work within the 25% capacity requirement.
We think a happy medium will probably be 2-3 days in the office a week from January, however some team members will want more and some less which we will have to work through.

Thanks very much for the reply Justine! That sounds sensible :slight_smile:

Hi Cam - I work for a global professional services firm, headquartered in Brisbane. Even in Brisbane where thing have been relatively ‘normal’ for many months now, no one is rushing back to our office. A lot of people are saying they want to do 2-3 days in the office and the rest work from home. Whilst our Brisbane office has been open, people are not coming back in any rush. I am hearing from many that they’ll work out what they do after the Christmas break - people seem to be using that as a bit of a milestone to reach.

Hi Cam,

Work from home Wednesday!

We are also a software development company with 13 offices worldwide. HQ (around 90 people) is in Perth so we had our staff return in July after 4 months of working from home.

In July we had a soft return - come back as you wish - to be approved by your manager. There was much reluctance with some teams returning full-time and some not returning at all. The disparity around what was expected of physical attendance was inefficient. Just as a HR example trying to book candidates in for face to face interviews and then having to check who was in and who was out etc was painful.

At the end of July we called it and decided to implement Work from home Wednesday. All staff now know they can WFH on Wednesday. People enjoy the scheduled flexibility on this day and it makes it more “fair” not just manager dependent. Staff are welcome to work in the office on Wednesdays if that is their preference (which happens around school holidays I’ve noticed.)

Most people would probably prefer a 3 days in 2 days out approach however I think the 1 day for us is working well. Outside of this people are more comfortable asking their managers to work remotely on an ad-hoc basis and are utilising this more overall.

Thanks so much for your replies Keren and Odelia. It seems like 2-3 days in/out of the office is reasonably popular. WFH Wednesday is an interesting concept also. Thanks and all the best!

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