How Australian businesses can get staff back in the office

The pandemic saw many businesses embrace working from home and it quickly became the new norm.  

 But with pandemic restrictions now scratched, more employers want their staff back in the office to increase collaboration.

Legally, many businesses can request their staff to return to the office, as employment agreements tend to refer to a physical workplace as the place of work.

But removing remote working completely could be a tough pill for your staff to swallow if it has made their life easier. And taking away flexible working can remove a benefit that makes it easier to recruit and retain staff, some research shows.

So, should you mandate a return to the office for your staff? Or is there another way?

We’ll explore some ways to make returning to the office feel like a treat – not a punishment.

Be flexible 

A hybrid workplace could be the perfect middle ground.

In fact, hybrid working has quickly become a “ticket to the dance” in terms of recruitment and staff engagement, says Justin Mark, Steadfast’s Head of People & Culture.

“Hybrid working can help strike the delicate balance between focus time and connecting with other people in the business,” Justin says. “While we understand how beneficial remote working can be for home commitments, particularly for many parents, we know those water cooler and elevator conversations are wonderful for impromptu collaboration.”

It’s important to remember that staff will have different preferences, Justin says.

“Some people appreciate that extra time at home, so they can put a load of laundry on or put a slow cooker on during their break. On the other hand, we know many people enjoy the social side of work, whether that’s the coffee catchups, the work events, or the day-to-day conversations.”

We’ll look at some ways to entice your staff back to work.

But first, here are some challenges to consider if you’re exploring a hybrid model of working.

“We know those water cooler and elevator conversations are wonderful for impromptu collaboration”

Overcoming challenges of hybrid working

Working from home has its benefits, but it doesn’t suit everyone.

“Remote working is a game changer for some, but it can be challenging for others. Some staff end up working longer hours because they have trouble switching off when the day is done,” Justin says.

“It can also be lonely, especially for people living by themselves. So, if you’re providing an option to work from home, you should ensure there’s still the option to work from the office.”

Businesses also need to consider safety in the home. If you have staff working at home as their main workplace, it needs to be fit for purpose.

“Make sure you provide the right types of equipment for staff to avoid any work-related injuries or illness. Take some time to identify and mitigate the risks of hybrid working.”

If you’re making any changes to your work model, it’s worth contacting your broker to ensure you have the right insurance cover.

How can you encourage staff to come back to work?

A hybrid model is a good selling point because of its balance and flexibility.

But if you need other ways to compel your staff back into the office, consider these ways.

  • Ask your staff what works for them

Through a survey or meetings with your employees, find out what works for them. Flexible working doesn’t always mean working from home. It could also look like a nine-day fortnight, job sharing, or leave purchase schemes.

  • Face-to-face learning and development opportunities

Learning and development is a big selling point for staff who are focused on enhancing their career. Paid training and time off for professional development are big wins for many employees. It’s also worth reminding staff how beneficial it can be to connect with and learn from their colleagues.

  • Commuting deals and discounts 

One of the gripes employees have about coming back to the workplace is the commute. You can help remove the issue by offering cheaper parking or public transport cards for staff to use to get to work.

  • Health is wealth 

Improved health is one of the biggest draws for working from home. And you can help make that an office perk too. You could consider offering general health and mental health checks, flu shots, COVID shots and skin cancer checks.

You could also consider activities such as meditation, yoga or social events to increase a sense of connection across your business.


To sum up

Our new world has thrown up several challenges. But it has also provided us with the opportunity to develop a new business model – a hybrid business – to future-proof their business and their staff.

If you plan on making any changes to your business, it’s a good idea to speak with your broker or adviser to ensure you have the right cover.



Important notice – Steadfast Group Limited ABN 98 073 659 677

This general information does not take into account your specific objectives, financial situation or needs. It is also not financial advice, nor complete, so please discuss the full details with your insurance broker or adviser as to whether these types of insurance are appropriate for you. Deductibles, exclusions and limits apply. These insurances are issued by various insurers and can differ.


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