HomeReturning to work: Bosses anticipate ‘long weekend’ trend to stay

Returning to work: Bosses anticipate ‘long weekend’ trend to stay

Bosses across Australia have revealed what they expect the new working week to look like, and it’s good news if you like working from home.

The pandemic has changed the way that millions of Australians work and it could shape the way we manage our work-life balance for years to come.

Many workers decided that they liked having the freedom to work from home, even when restrictions were at their loosest between the lockdowns in Australia’s biggest states.

A trend of working from home on Mondays and Fridays was seen across Sydney from late May — creating a kind of “long weekend” for those lucky enough to talk their bosses into it.

Now that life appears to be going back to normal, those desires to work a couple of days a week from home remain.

The Committee for Sydney — a think tank that represents organisations including universities, hospitality, construction and entertainment — has talked to bosses of 130 organisations that employ 640,000 workers across Australia in a new report that shows how the working landscape is changing.

It has found that 51 per cent of bosses expect their workers will commute to the office for just three days a week, and 36 per cent expect their staff will cluster their office days from Tuesday to Thursday.

Only 7 per cent of bosses thought staff who worked in an office environment would come in five times a week like they used to before the pandemic hit.

The Committee for Sydney says the research should prompt a rethink about public transport pricing — as research from Roy Morgan showed a massive drop in the amount of movement around Sydney from pre-pandemic levels.

In the week beginning May 24, for example, Monday movement was down 66 per cent compared with pre-pandemic levels of January and February 2020. And it was down 63 per cent on Tuesday and Wednesday, and 62 per cent on Thursday.

The reduction was also just 62 per cent on Friday, but does not take into consideration the significantly increased number of people heading out for recreation on Fridays after work.

The Committee says NSW could make better use of pricing – both as an incentive to get people into the city and help small businesses that are suffering from the reduced movement.

“Experience in other cities around the world has shown the key to building public support for pricing reforms is to make it clear the public is gaining something,” they said in the report.

“London used the proceeds from the congestion charge to significantly increase public transport service. San Francisco used the proceeds from demand-driven parking pricing to give fewer parking tickets and to fund increases to services.

“Very often, pricing reforms have eventually proven popular, after initial public opposition.”

Some of the committee’s ideas include:

• Off-peak public transport fares to counterbalance the possibility of an emerging three-day work week, as hybrid forms of remote work take hold after Covid-19. Lower fares on Mondays and Fridays, as well as nights and weekends, might help balance the loads and help activate the city on the new ‘long weekend.’

• Demand-driven parking pricing in Transport for NSW-controlled spaces – to ensure availability of supply and balance demand.

• A CBD congestion charge — which would support a broader effort to reduce traffic volumes in the CBD.

• An increase in the parking levy — which could be hypothecated to fund public realm improvements within the same area where it is generated.

• Differential pricing for freight vehicles can help manage congestion at the kerb, as e-commerce leads to ever more home deliveries.

• Better data collection on journeys can enable more successful demand management interventions.


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