Workers In Major Firms To Return To Office

Workers In Major Firms To Return To Office By Feb

AUSTRALIA – Due to inconsistent guidelines from the authorities on border closures and working at central business districts (CBDs), some of the country’s biggest companies are deferring plans to return to their workplaces in Sydney & Melbourne until February, reported The Sydney Morning Herald on Friday (15 January).

While COVID-19 infections have not surpassed 2 digits across major states since the occurrence of Melbourne’s 2nd wave of infections in 2020, state heads quickly closed borders and asked people to wear face masks.

In the state of Victoria, up to half of employees per firm can return to their office starting on 18 January after 9 straight days of 0 community transmissions. The workers also don’t need to wear masks while indoors. This was supposed to start earlier on 11 January, but was delayed after a cluster of infections emerged in the south eastern part of the city.

In New South Wales (NSW), the government order that mandates firms to permit staff to telecommute is no longer valid. However, workplaces can only be 50 percent occupied at any point in time due to safe distancing rules.

Australia’s largest bank with over 40,000 staff, the Commonwealth Bank, revealed that it will keep its flexible work arrangement, wherein employees can rotate their time in the office and at home until February.

“We continue to monitor the situation and are currently looking to a hybrid return for many of our people in February, pending no new health concerns or restrictions are advised by the Victorian or NSW governments.”

“Flexibility and remote working will be important in helping us manage building occupancy rates to ensure we comply with physical distancing requirements,” said a bank representative.

Similarly, Telstra is adopting a cautious stance, with a spokesperson sharing that their employees in Melbourne are encouraged to telecommute until end-January. The telecommunications firm also revealed that it will maintain flexible work arrangement after restrictions are relaxed. This is because its workers said they “no longer want to spend Monday to Friday in a traditional office environment.”

“As things return to normal, many see themselves coming into the office up to two days a week to collaborate, see customers, and connect with their team. But there’s a wide range of views on this, with some keen to come back into the office full-time and others not at all,” said a representative.

Meanwhile, Melbourne-based National Australia Bank (NAB) revised its work policy on Friday to account for the new rules in the state of Victoria. It will also let its workers in Melbourne return to the workplace starting this week.

“Our priority continues to be the safety of our colleagues, customers and the community, and any future plans will be in line with government advice and protocols,” added the bank.

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