A growing number of bosses are requiring their staff to return to the office five days a week, and some are offering additional benefits to soften the blow.
Only seven per cent of Australian employers had full-time office attendance rules in 2023, but the figure is rising rapidly.
That figure has almost doubled since 2022, according to the Australian Human Resources Institute, and will rise further in 2024 as the years of pandemic and lockdowns fade from memory.
To speed up the process and ease the transition, some companies offer benefits such as work drinks, meals, and bowling games.
One employer that insists staff work five days a week in the office is ES Concierge & Co, a “business and lifestyle” firm with high-end clients.
Mandi Ford, who founded the company in 2010, said that “every member of the team has different strengths and backgrounds,” which requires them to be in the office to easily share their knowledge.
Employer Mandi Ford (right) and manager Jacqui Walker (left) prefer to work from the office.
“We could do anything from getting a restaurant (booked), planning a conference or leadership retreat, to getting last-minute Taylor Swift tickets,” Ms Ford told Daily Mail Australia.
ES Concierge & Co also handles tasks ranging from finding a cleaner to helping someone move to a new country and organizing a person’s travel arrangements.
‘Every day is very different. In order for us to be effective and be able to find the right product or service to accomplish the requested task… you really need to have a collaborative approach to accomplishing the task,” Ms. Ford said.
He added that the communication chain can easily become complicated if some people work from home.
“If someone has a question and they’re working remotely, then they can call you, you could be in a meeting, you could be on a phone call, you call them back, then they call you back, and then they have to get to the suppliers, so which slows down the compliance chain,” he said.
Jacqui Walker, business and life concierge manager at Ms Ford’s company, prefers to work in the office rather than at home, as was necessary during the Covid lockdowns.
She said being in the office leads to better quality work because she likes being around other people and working together.
Excite Technology Services CEO Bryan Saba (pictured) also wants workers to return to the office
‘With the kind of work we do, you often want to talk to someone and say, oh, what do you think about this or is this the right solution? (Being in the office), people are there around me to discuss it.’
During the pandemic lockdowns, Walker said he “missed being a part of things, meeting with people, collaborating, discussing.”
“I think that’s part of being human, being able to interact with others… I’m certainly someone who, I think, my employer gets a lot more out of me if I can be in that environment,” he said. saying.
Ms Ford agreed, saying “the way we deliver is a team approach and is in the best interests of our customers”.
‘Part of that is listening, hearing and learning. And if you’re not interested in listening, listening and learning, then you’re in the wrong business,” he stated.
Excite Technology Services CEO Bryan Saba also wants workers to return to the office.
“It’s important because we are a cybersecurity company,” he said.
‘So some of the issues we address are very urgent and need really rapid collaboration.
“And by being in each other’s presence, they can read body language and tone much better than on the phone, email, or video call.”
Saba said that due to the nature of their business, following the Covid lockdowns, most staff were eager to return to the office.
“Still, the office culture was something that many of our team liked,” he said.
Saba said part of encouraging people to return to the office was about “retaining our people and our culture and promoting flexibility.”
That flexibility means there are still some people who work four days a week in the office and one day from home, or nine days a fortnight in the office and one day at home.
“So encouraging people to come to the office, promoting flexibility and so on, actually resulted in a lot of people coming to the office anyway,” Mr. Saba said.
One of the main reasons being in the office works better for Excite Technology Services is that the company promotes from within.
He said this means new employees are often young and need to be in the office to learn from more experienced employees.
There are also some non-work benefits to being in the office.
‘After our quarterly business reviews and any type of important announcements within the organization, rather than simply sending an email In fact, we’ll do it over a team lunch and drinks in the office,” Mr. Saba said.
Then we’ll go bowling or something.
Although full-time office work is not yet widely enforced, 90 percent of employers have implemented some mandatory days in the office, according to a survey of 300 hiring managers commissioned by recruiting agency Robert Half.
However, the move is not universally popular among staff, with nearly a third of respondents saying at least one employee resigned in response.
Legally, the situation in Australia favors the employer over the employee.
Whether someone is employed on a permanent, casual or short-term contract, they must follow “lawful and reasonable” instructions from their employer.
Even if this requirement is not clearly written into a contract, Australian courts have ruled that it is “implied”.