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Westpac may be leading the way in a new model that will continue to allow corporate employees to split their time between home and office even after COVID-19 abates.
Westpac is among the companies moving forward with the so-called hybrid model after COVID-19, according to a report by the ABC. The change, if it becomes more general through the corporate world, could impact millions of Australian office workers.
Westpac said in a memo to its staff that it was working towards the hybrid model, which it would keep in place even after a vaccine is widely available.
“We expect that post-COVID, most people will still work remotely at least a couple of days a week, but also be based on site with their teams for two to three days a week,” the memo said.
Westpac already had a few thousand employees on flexible working arrangements before the pandemic, according to the ABC. But Su Duffey, Westpac head of human resources, said that sending 20,000 corporate employees home all at once at the outset of the pandemic proved that the company could push the policy even further.
“It had been quite challenging at times to get [managers] to consider how they’d manage their teams if they weren’t all in the same place,” Duffey told the ABC. “Having to shift everybody home in March was the last little circuit breaker we needed. It has had a fundamental mindset shift in the way that leaders manage outcomes and the fact they don’t have to be watching people and micromanaging.”
Duffey said that remote work had “upsides for the workplace” in areas like productivity, work-life balance and mental health.
However, Duffey said that now that restrictions are starting to ease, Westpac will start bringing corporate employees back to the office one day per week.
“One of the pieces of feedback that’s come through is that they do miss that social interaction with workmates, teammates, and part of that is in the collaboration,” Duffey told the ABC.
However, Westpac wants to hold on to the benefits working from home provides. Duffey said she hoped most of Westpac’s 20,000 employees would continue to work under a hybrid model even after a vaccine becomes widely available.
“We really want people to feel the flexibility of working across multiple work hubs, whether that’s the office, whether that’s in their home, or even leveraging other worksites like operational centres and branches,” she said.