A local council staff is up in arms after being ordered to stop working from home and return to the office five days a week.
Randwick Council, in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, has told its staff they must return to the office five days a week before 9/11 or their jobs will be at risk.
Staff currently working in a hybrid model of non-compulsory attendance for some functions are resisting the move, saying it hurts women, lowers morale and causes an exodus of employees.
Randwick council in eastern Sydney has ordered staff to return to the office five days a week.
A council spokesperson says bringing all staff together in the office will lead to more collaboration, better on-the-job learning, training and development and better customer service.
An anonymous email sent to Randwick council members last month outlined a number of objections to the order.
“This decision has not considered the impact on staff: family commitments, mental health and wellness, travel times and the financial burden imposed during the current economic crisis,” the email reads according to the Sydney Morning Herald.
The email also argued that changing work arrangements would “disproportionately affect women, who typically shoulder the majority of care work responsibilities.”
Union leader Ian Robertson, who is director of the Association of Environmental and Development Professionals, said he had been told members would resign if they were dragged back into office.
“I am already receiving feedback from members that if this happens they will look to work elsewhere,” he wrote in a letter to the council’s acting general manager.
The council spokesman argued that not all staff preferred the hybrid model.
“We heard from our staff that many were working longer hours when working at home and there was not a clear delineation between home and work life,” he said.
Working from home, which was widely embraced during the Covid pandemic period, is emerging as a major fault line between workers and bosses as the economy continues to deteriorate.
In an Australian Financial Review survey of corporate heavyweights conducted in June, Telstra chairman John Mullen accused home workers of abusing the privilege of working from home over a drop in productivity.
Bosses are increasingly irritable with staff working from home, saying this leads to lower productivity
“It’s debatable, but I wonder if the very recent declines haven’t been exacerbated by the work-from-home trend since the start of the pandemic,” Mullen said.
“Anecdotally, a lot of people are definitely working harder than ever and are more productive, but I don’t think this is for everyone.”
Sydney Hydro director Tony Shepherd also said working from home was less productive.
“During the pandemic, working from home, absenteeism, disruption to supply chains had a negative impact on productivity and continue to do so,” he said.
Canstar finance expert Steve Mickenbecker agreed that staff working from home could make it harder for bosses to control their employees.
“It’s a more challenging landscape for employers to manage inputs,” he told Daily Mail Australia.
‘The problem with working from home is that the collaboration starts to break down a bit.
‘There’s no one right at the next desk that you can say ‘how do you do this or how about we try this?’ You don’t have those conversations very regularly.
“Those elements of creativity and spontaneity in the workplace start to unravel, as does a bit of the team culture and feeling.”
The head of a commercial property business went as far as criticizing ‘selfish’ employees for choosing to work from home in May.
Canstar finance expert Steve Mickenbecker says working from home can hurt collaboration
CR Commercial Property Group chief executive and managing director, Nicole Duncan, told 2GB’s Ben Fordham that she was “passionate” about people returning to their offices in city centres.
“This generation is so selfish,” he said.
“In our youth, we took trains, buses and ferries to work,” he said.
‘Yes, it took two or three hours, but you have to be in the office.
“Until CEOs make a decision and get bold about it, it’s not going to change because the unemployment rate is still too low.”