Big banks to NSW employees: Stay out of the office

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    Big banks are asking employees to stay away from the office if possible following the COVID-19 outbreak in New South Wales.

    ANZ has asked all non-essential workers in Sydney to work from home until at least 11 January, according to a report by The Australian. Alexis George, ANZ deputy chief executive, said in a note to staff that only employees who “absolutely need” to work from an ANZ office should come into the bank’s Sydney locations prior to 11 January. George said that the bank remained “on heightened alert in Sydney” and would continue to monitor the situation.

    “We look forward to getting back to something akin to COVID-normal in 2021,” she said.

    ANZ and other banks are actively monitoring their return-to-work schedules this year following the outbreak, The Australian reported.

    Westpac has also asked its head-office staff to work remotely “unless absolutely necessary.” The bank is also requiring all customer-facing staff in the Greater Sydney region to wear a mask and has adopted the four-square-metre rule.

    Commonwealth Bank, meanwhile, said it had not changed its position on staff coming into its corporate offices in Greater Sydney.

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    “As we have done throughout the year, we continue to actively monitor the situation and adhere to the guidance from the NSW government, to ensure the safety of our people and customers remains paramount,” a CBA spokeswoman told The Australian. “Given the time of year, the majority of staff are on annual leave, with many returning to work in early January. We will review the situation at that time and advise our staff of any changes accordingly.”

    Most CBA commercial staff have been working remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the bank has kept its major commercial offices in Sydney open should employees wish to work from them. Occupancy levels at the offices peaked at 35% before Christmas – well below CBA’s COVID-safe capacity.

    National Australia Bank said it was gradually reopening its commercial buildings. NAB allows 85% of its 34,000 employees to work from home through the pandemic, The Australian reported.

    Innes Willox, chief executive of Australian Industry Group, said the white-collar workforce is currently split with about one-third working from home, one-third at the office, and one-third in a “hybrid arrangement.”

    “Businesses expect that trend to continue, although there will be more pressure throughout 2021 for people to come back to the office,” Willox said. “Not necessarily full time, but at least part of the time.”

    Original Article