Sunday, June 4, 2023

Office workers and bosses in delicate dance over return to office

“I can’t wait to see the Melbourne CBD coming back to life with the announcement office workers can return and masks will no longer be required from next Monday,” he posted on LinkedIn on Tuesday. “This is exactly what we need to support the small businesses that serve our CBD and allows employers like NAB to plan with certainty as we rebound from the pandemic.”

NAB behavioral economist Dean Pearson warned all businesses, including the bank, would have to manage employee preferences around continuing to work flexibly and clustering of office days around the center of the week.

NAB economist Dean Pearson is looking forward to returning to the office three days a week from next week. Credit:Joe Armao

This worldwide phenomenon has seen workers in Britain dubbed “TWATs” for only going into the office on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays, working from home on Mondays and Fridays either through choice or employer decree.

“That’s obviously not great for the city because the city needs that vibrancy to happen and to be spread more evenly throughout the week,” he said.


Mr Pearson said he is looking forward to returning to the office and expects to be back three days a week from Monday.

“There are benefits to being at home, but that informal catch up with people, and then being able to really say someone ‘Are we on the same page?’ and have those brainstorming sessions face to face, that’s what I’ve primarily missed.”

An ongoing skills shortage means employers are reluctant to mandate a set numbers of days in the office and are instead trying to gently encourage employees to come back in.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce head Paul Guerra said there would be lots of conversations this week between employers, managers and their staff.

“I’d expect to see a gradual return to the office starting from next Monday,” he said. “We’ve got to unlearn the habits that we’ve had over the past couple of months and learn new ones about coming back into the office.”

The process of bringing back public sector employees, who make up about 10 per cent of Melbourne’s workforce, is also ongoing.

The Australian Taxation Office, which has a large building on Collins Street in Docklands that housed 2000 workers before the pandemic, hopes to get its back-the-office process started next week, but is already facing disputes in the Fair Work Commission and a Federal Court case over work-from-home arrangements.

A spokeswoman said on Tuesday that the agency had learned much during the pandemic about hybrid working models and was prepared to keep developing its approach.

“Building on our experience of the last two years, the ATO has now committed to broader use of hybrid working as an ongoing approach,” the spokeswoman said.

“We will continue to evaluate and refine our approach over time to ensure our arrangements are meeting the needs and expectations of the community, government and our staff.”

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World Nation News Desk
World Nation News Desk
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