For our free coronavirus pandemic coverage, learn more here.
Companies and landlords don’t expect workers to return to Mebourne’s CBD in large numbers until February, despite the relaxation of coronavirus restrictions and a directive for public servants to work on-site three days per week.
Office capacity limits and mask rules for vaccinated workers in most workplaces were removed from 11.59pm Thursday as the state approached the 90 per cent vaccination milestone.
Melbourne’s CBD has been abandoned during lockdowns. Credit:Eddie Jim
Landlords told The Age they expected the removal of the mask mandate in offices to have only a “moderate” impact on staffing levels in city office towers, with summer vacations set likely to keep numbers low.
A national survey of tenants at $11 billion ASX-listed office landlord Dexus, which owns and manages premium towers like 80 Collin Street in Melbourne, shows most are banking on up to 80 per cent of their workforce being back in the office by February.
“Lifting of masks makes a big difference, but most companies are looking to reset next February after a difficult year,” Dexus’ executive general manager for offices, Kevin George, said.
“Anything we’re seeing now is going to have a moderate impact,” he said.
An email obtained by The Age and sent to senior government managers in late October from the state’s most senior bureaucrat, Victorian Department of Premier and Cabinet secretary Jeremi Moule, says government workplaces must have plans in place for full-time workers to return at least three days a week once 90 per cent vaccination levels are reached.
The email sets an “assumption that full-time workers return three days per week to their office. It is then up to employees and managers to discuss and agree individual working arrangements.”
However, it also enshrines across the public service a flexible work policy that retains the “benefits of remote working.”
In the private sector, some of the city’s largest employers of office staff say they are in no rush to force their workers back into head offices.
Telstra, which was an early mover on vaccination mandates, will maintain its flexible work policy into the future and expects its core staff to continue to spend the majority of their weeks working from home.
“Before COVID, our people were already working about two days a week from home and, now that restrictions are easing, our people are telling us they think they’ll work about three days a week from home,” a Telstra spokesman said.
National Australia Bank chief operating officer Les Matheson said the bank was encouraging staff to start re-acquainting themselves with the office but a full return will not occur until after Christmas.
“Once our offices re-open in the New Year following Christmas shutdown, the expectation is that our colleagues will be ready to go with hybrid practices of two to three days per week in the office,” he said.
The Commonwealth Bank has already seen some workers return to onsite work a few days a week, but the banking giant will also hold off on a greater return to the office until next year.
“Subject to any health concerns or government restrictions, our formal return to our corporate workplaces in Melbourne and Sydney is 1 February 2022,” a spokeswoman said.
ANZ is also waiting until February 2022 to start a significant transition back to the office.
Westpac will start a phased return to its workplaces from December 1, but will still run on a hybrid system where specific teams come in on certain days.
“As those still working from home return to the office, we will continue to build a hybrid model of working,” a spokeswoman said.
Earlier this year, an Age and Sydney Morning Herald survey of 50 of the country’s largest employers revealed a vast majority would retain a focus on remote working even once lockdown restrictions were lifted.
Fascinating answers to perplexing questions delivered to your inbox every week. Sign up to get our new Explainer newsletter here.
Most Viewed in Business
From our partners
Source: Read Full Article