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Return to office push gets public support

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67% agreed with return to the office

More than half of the readers of nine.com.au in Australia are expressing the belief that it is high time for more employees to return to working in offices.

A survey conducted by the news outlet among 535 readers revealed that 67% of them agreed with the statement “it is time for more employees to return to the office or in-person work.”

This comes as executives worldwide are urging a return to physical workplaces after years of remote work due to the pandemic. Employers have been cautioning that refusing to return to the office could result in an increase in offshore recruitment and negatively impact business districts.

In response to the growing frustration, a CEO based in Sydney referred to those opposing an office return as “selfish,” drawing parallels to a time when people had to commute to work.

“The commute might have taken two or three hours, but being in the office was crucial because you don’t know what you don’t know,” the CEO shared during a conversation with 2GB Mornings in May.

For many employees, the lack of a daily commute has been one of the most appealing aspects of remote work. According to nine.com.au’s survey, 44% of respondents identified it as the most significant advantage of working from home. However, the biggest drawback cited was the lack of interaction with colleagues (24%), a concern shared by workers in some parts of the world.

Employers have been encouraged to make the return to the office more enticing by providing additional perks and increasing compensation. Yet, some employees no longer see the purpose of returning to the workplace.

“Companies are offering more perks and higher compensation to attract workers back to the office. However, they need to make the office environment more purposeful and ‘commute-worthy,'” remarked Jeanne Meister, Executive VP of Executive Networks.

The impact of remote work on workplaces has been evident in various sectors. For instance, the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU) recently negotiated for expanded flexibility rights in its latest deal with the Australian Public Service Commission.

However, when faced with the choice between taking a pay cut or having less flexibility, the majority of nine.com.au’s respondents (36%) preferred keeping their pay and continuing to work from home five days a week.

Interestingly, the survey also showed that only a small minority (10%) of respondents considered a company’s work-from-home policy as the “most important factor” when accepting a job offer. The majority (60%) of employees now prioritize factors like the location and schedule of their workplace over compensation or promotion, indicating a shift in the perspective of Australian workers.

“It is crucial for employers to pay attention to this shift in perspective from their employees,” noted Jamie MacLennan, Lifeworks Senior Vice President, and Managing Director.

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