Workplace Forcing People Back to Office

I work in a large government agency. Staff have been working from home since May. It was recently decreed that everyone is expected to work from the office at least 60% of the time next year.

Management have ignored all the benefits that have become apparent from WFH, such as improved mental and physical wellbeing, saving time and money on public transport, increased flexibility, etc., all the while maintaining (if not improving) productivity and staying safe.

Practical matters such as staff needing to take crowded public transport back to work or caring for family members more vulnerable to Covid have been ignored.

Anyone else work for an organisation that likes to claim it's modern and progressive while being the exact opposite?


  • +9

    In my workplace, a supervisor has been working from home in a different state on a different timezone since lockdown began in March. We suspect that this person has been doing another job since March when lockdown began while still being employed with us.

    She would log in at 5.30pm everyday for a few minutes when her other shift had ended, even though she gets paid handsomely to do 12hr shift.

    We know this due to Azure AD logs which keeps a log of every user logging in and she would log in around 5.30pm, instead of 6am.

    She resigned when we asked her to come back into the office.

    Some people really like to abuse the system and ruin it for everyone.

    • +1

      Generally speaking, supervisors I’ve worked with were loyal to no one. They are not the management nor workers, they waver their position on whoever is stronger. Not unusual behaviour when they throw workers under the bus and deceiving the management as long as it benefits them.

    • +1

      That should've been flagged by someone and pinged earlier so.. why did no-one catch her about it?
      Don't tell me HR were twiddling their thumbs 70% of their day …

      • I think you just answered your question. Nobody wants to be a dobber.

  • Edit: my job is going back to the original layout (as it was intended).

  • +7

    You could always quit. Lots of people looking for work atm

  • +4

    Are you complaining because they won't let you watch Netflix all day and get paid anymore ? :)

  • +1

    Where is OP to reply to the thread? Have they just created a thread that's a bit controversial at the moment and sat back to watch the flames ignite?

    Anywhoo, I don't see anyone here discussing the issue of managers running ineffective face to face meetings. If you as a manager deem that it's important enough to force your team into the office full time and run meetings with no agendas/structure/actions, then you need to have your legs broken (so then you have a reason to WFH). In my experience, I've also found the conniving Karen's of the world to be less effective at stirring their sh1t when WFH which benefits everybody!

    • You want flames…

      Private Sector > Public Sector = Victorians

  • +1

    Would you agree if your kid says the same, that he is not interested to go to school and prefer SFH?

    • Sounds like fun.. the whole family Zooming in. I could imagine the madness

    • If the kid is adult attending university, why not?

      • +1

        never knew u can refer adults as kids.

        • -1

          If you are a parent with older kids, they are still kids, and they are adults as well, no? Or how do you call your children that are adults?

  • +9

    What this is, is management realising they’re utterly useless without the presence of a physical employee to actually manage if you’re all working from home whereby making their own jobs redundant. Unfortunately next year companies will either need to adapt or die by churn of good employees who now after realising the benefits will just go work elsewhere.

    I left the corporate bs lifestyle 3 years ago to work from home doing renewables with a very rare client visit in a blue moon for commercial customers and never looked back.

    Also as someone that used to work with HR a lot don’t bother with them they’re utterly useless all round and only exist because by law companies over a certain head count have to have them. They will never take your side they’re there for 100% the companies use only and used only to protect the company hence they’re presence when you quit or lose your job. It’s not like they take notes about you when you’re doing great work for a business now is it? But they certainly have a file on you for all your reported faults and issues, funny how that works.

    TLDR; Company won’t let you work from home, find a new one that will.

  • Leave the place. Employers don’t love you and they have already figured out that the job can be done remotely. When you least expect it, they will shift most of these jobs overseas and keep razor thin staff at home for economic reasons. It is worth the risk of offshoring sensitive information when the same can happen from Australia.

  • +6

    Lazy ass governemnt just do your job why don't you and stop complaining about anything and everything

    • It's arse.

      • It's also government but you seemed to have missed that mr know it all

  • +6

    60% of your time in the office is still incredibly flexible and 'progressive'.

    Management have ignored all the benefits that have become apparent from WFH, such as improved mental and physical wellbeing, saving time and money on public transport, increased flexibility, etc., all the while maintaining (if not improving) productivity and staying safe.

    This is just untrue. The vast, vast majority of business owners who wanted staff to work from the office, still want staff to work from the office. There has been a huge drop off in productivity at large and small businesses. You dont even need to speak to management to confirm this. Customer service at most large organisations (think banks etc) has fallen through the floor because of WFH. There is a reason Matt Comyn is on the record expecting people to return, there is a reason the big law firms and accounting practices want there staff to return to the office. Granted, these workplaces are making shifts to be more flexible however that is exactly what your employer has done.

    Ultimately, you obviously took the role without a commitment for more than 40% WFH and it is therefore you that has changed what you want from a role. The notion that you would bash your employer because your needs have changed (and not theirs) is nothing short of entitled.

    • Banks, for most people a bank is where their ATM machine is located.

  • +6

    They're not forcing you to do anything.

    They are offering you a job, to do a job that they, the employer kinda have the right to outline what is involved in that job.

    If you don't want to do that job you was doing 8 months ago.

    • ^ this

      I have to admit i enjoy WFH for the flexibility to help out my young family

      but certainly wouldnt go whinging if my manager told me the return to office

  • -1

    I work in HR, 60 percent seems a reasonable request.

    Yes working from home might have been easy or good for you but it may have had larger business impacts which mean things like collaboration, work performance generally etc.

  • At least you can finish on time being in a GOV agency, and can spend half the day reading the newspaper

    • Haha this is so true. Governmwnt employees should be insta-barred from complaining about their job. They wouldn't last an hour at a private business.

  • Yeah, I put on 7kgs working from home, so back to the office was great.

  • +1

    Maybe you will unwittingly provide them a case for outsourcing. The science barely holds up 100% WFH with the current statistics. I believe 60% WFH is even over generous.

    • +2

      My boss will certainly agree with you - he believe if a role can be WFH, that role can be outsourced. I got a team of 3 accountants in Philippines which is at 50% of a single headcount here in Australia.

      • +2

        Do most clients dream of the idea of talking to a team of 3 accountants in the Philippines?
        Do most clients dream of the idea of their work being outsourced and sent overseas to team of 3 accountants in the Philippines?
        Does your business advertise the fact you have a team of 3 accountants in Philippines as one of the reasons why people should use you? (its cheap! because we send your confidential accounts overseas!).

        I think you would be lucky to find a person who even liked one of those options.

        Bookkeeping and non advising accounting is low money work anyway. If it goes overseas, its going to go overseas or Ai will take it over eventually.
        If was your boss I would be less worried about wfh and more worried that he will be replaced with smart Ai, which will literally shit over the advice he can give.

  • +7

    What a winger. WFH is not an entitlement for your job it’s just a perk when dealing with a pandemic and now your able to utilise it for 60% of your work hours.

    Just go back to work and be happy you have one. Your local coffee shop probably misses you.

    • +1

      WFH is not an entitlement for your job

      • yes, but it will become an entitlement.
  • +5

    I prefer wfh, but if my employer decides that we need to get back to the office, it is what it is.

  • +2

    You’re acting a bit entitled given Australia has effectively beaten covid. So not like you’re in the US being told to go back to the office!

    They have office space they’ve paid for and there are lots of negatives to people working from home. It’s not feasible to expect to work from home 100% of the time. Honestly, saying you can work from home 40% of the time is pretty generous.

    The smartest thing to do is have an open conversation with your boss to see if there is any flexibility for you to do more days from home…explain the benefits but you need to be reasonable and understanding of the company position and needs.

    Otherwise find a new job. But good luck finding anything 100% from home!

    • +3

      So I’m guessing you’ve heard about the Northern Beaches cases?

      Now is not the time to be throwing out all our strategies to reduce transmission. It will be bubbling away in the community until the vaccine has been received by most people.

    • +2

      There is nothing to benefit the company except the worker. More productivity is just bs. If you can't be productive in an office environment, then how can you be productive at home when no one is watching over you. How can the boss see the effort (or lack of) you have put into your work?

      • +1

        yes because a boss actually has to stare at you working and not look at the work you have done to see if you are productive.

        Most work is not "show up because we need you there", most work is "we have a goal, what (work) do we have to do to meet it".
        The performance is meeting the goal.

        Look at marketing - do you want someone in marketing who comes into the office and "does the hours" or increases sales by 20%?
        As a shareholder (and hence ultimate owner of a company) I know which one I would rather!

        • +4

          The fact that you and I are here posting just proves that WFH doesn't work!

          • @love2buy: Bingo!

          • @love2buy: You don't know if I'm at work or what time zone I'm in.

            But let me make it clear. I will surf OzB on a work computer or my own.

          • @love2buy: I spent way more time on OzBargain in the office actually.

  • Perhaps they currently don't have plans for it, or would rather not comment on it hastily.

  • +7

    Worker complains that employer expects them to turn up and do their job.

  • +1

    Bob Hawke promised that by 1990, no Australian child will be living in poverty. Maybe they are focused on that promise and haven't got to your WFH suggestion yet.

    • In terms of absolute poverty, almost no one is for any significant length of time (except those who want to be).

      The issue in regards to poverty are single parent households. If we got rid of those we would have zero poverty (just like Black households in the US).

  • This guy. sigh

  • I loved working from home, save time on travel, get more work done without being disturbed and interrupted and best part of all not having to spend as much time with the boss who was such a bully he finally got fired for it after 10 years (most of that time we were all in separate offices but last couple of years it was open plan and everyone else saw the bullying take place).

  • +2

    60% sounds like 3 days in the office, 2 days WFH. I think that's the way most companies have gone, including my own. It's very reasonable. 3 days in the office to do all your teamwork stuff, then 2 days to buckle down on your own. With the weekend you get 4 days of sleeping in and not having to sit through traffic. Can't really complain.

    My only concern is if companies eventually cull this and return to a normal 5 day week, which some have already done. Personally I would pack up and leave. Most companies have benefited greatly from WFH. Better productivity, team morale etc. Unless they can clearly show that WFH is hurting the business, there is no reason to get rid of it other than wanting to make sure people are as miserable as possible 100% of the time.

  • +3

    Whilst I personally enjoy working from home I also see the benefits of working in the office. For me the 3 days in the office, 2 WFH is perfect. For businesses that have done quite well with WFH arrangements they need to evolve otherwise they'll find they'll lose good employees to businesses offering more flexible working arrangements. In saying that businesses can also reap the benefits of reducing office space & the costs associated with this in the coming years. No different to B&M retailers having to flex with online business models, businesses will now need to do this as a result of COVID with their workforce.

  • +3

    I'm in the Fed government too, same story at my place.

    My only comments are:

    (a) You can negotiate more time WFH if you like, but you need to commit to some sort of plan that is approved by your boss; and

    (b) This was SCOMOs idea, as he wants public servants to funnel cash to businesses in the cities again.

  • +1

    I'm just glad I have a job. I never stopped going being an essential worker. Those with government job were luck to be able to WFH. Hope you enjoyed it.

  • What will happen to pornhub if all the workers go back

    • They only take digital assets as payments now.

    • -1

      That's why I won't let my workers wfh.

      • why don't you stare at them jacking off instead?

        I mean at least it would be more useful and perhaps bring either you or them additional pleasure?

  • +8

    Next thing you know people are gonna be complaining that their workplaces are forcing them to do work.


    • +1

      no one is against people doing work.

      As a shareholder I am against business paying a LOT for CBD office space they don't need because a manger is too useless to implement wfh arrangements because they can't identify if their workers are productive???

      • cmon it's well known that public sector employees are serial slack off artists.

        As someone who's been WFH up until Sep and started going in to the office since then, There's no doubt in my mind that things like meetings and collaboration in general are much much easier and more effective in person. Sure, there are days where I could probably just WFH and save the transport time since all I'll be doing is facing a computer by myself either way, but other than the saved transport time, I don't see why anyone would have 'improved mental wellbeing" by working from home, unless they're able to slack off more easily or some shit. If anything, WFH makes it harder to switch off from 'work mode' to 'leisure mode' and generally leads to longer working hours for anyone who has reasonable work ethic.

        2 days WFH is already a great compromise and gives you the flexibility you need to manage your other shit. Honestly, I would strongly question the work ethic of someone that was bitching and moaning about having to come into the office 3 times a week.

        • +1

          I sit next to my manager who interrupts me several times per hour for some bs that's not important - it's usually her making comments and asking me for validation or some crap. It's not like I can tell her to shut up as she's my manager.

          I was going nuts in the office. Was such a God send to be able to focus at home on my work. Yes, I end up working longer hours being hard to switch off, but I don't need to put up with other people and humour them. Just let me do my work in peace.

          • +1

            @tikei: Sounds like you have an issue with your manager. WFH has nothing to do with it.

            • @Kingfield: WFH allows you to not deal with office chit chat and politics without being rude. Maybe some people love them, thrive on them and love going into the office as that helps with their mental well being. Not for everyone tough 🤷‍♀️

  • +14

    Not going back to 5 day grind EVER again. I will just leave the company. 2.5 days -3 day onsite and 2 days from home is perfect for me. I loved spending time with my family and I worked way harder from home than I could ever achieve from the office. I understand that it is required to attend office for 2-3 days but as long as its flexible and as per the requirement then I'm good to go 5 days some weeks but not forever. Not going back to being a drone again.

    • +5

      Exactly my words!

      We were so wrong all this years….

    • +1

      I find that hard to believe. How do you keep your family from distracting you tho or keep yourself from being distracted by family.

      • +7

        I found that part easy. Its the preventing coworkers from distracting me at the office bit i havent figured out.

      • Discipline and Schedule.

        • Make sure that family knows your schedule. Share calendar. Keep them updated.
        • Disturbing while working is not acceptable. Not even once. Urgent messages can come through phone message.
        • Moved to a bigger home and had one room just for work. Lock it if required.
        • Work can be done anytime technically so I found times to smash maximum work when everyone was occupied and then we spent the free time together (Requires goals and trust based work environment instead of annoying micro managing ones).
  • +10

    I've stopped reading this thread because the mere thought of going back to the office makes me cry :-(

    • -3

      unemployment benefits sounds good?

      • +6

        Do you equate the preference of working from home to the desire of being unemployed?

        • Its that much closer to becoming outsourced.

  • I work from home normally, even before COVID. I'd be pretty excited to get back into an office. So everybody is different.

    Times are a changing, so you should be able to find another job with more WFH, you can look for positions "based" in other cities too.

  • +2

    Children SFH should also be an option as well. That should reduce morning and afternoon traffic and benefit everyone.

    • +1

      Imagine if we gave parents a voucher - either give it to a school or keep it and SFH.

      You only get the voucher every quarter and children have to progress (shouldn't be too difficult to implement thanks to testing via Ai, etc).

      Be interesting to see what would happen.

      I could see very accelerated learning in some kids as well as potentially less depression and less suicides (less bullying).

    • Yeah forget about the social and physical benefits of actually interacting with other kids and running around outside every day at lunch.

      • Yes because we couldn't make kids socialise or do physical activity by using the voucher system either.

        25% are already obese, and the number is rising and money is a pretty strong inducement for most people (ie. the parents).
        So make the voucher system dependent on participation in sport. Use part of the money for a nutritionist!

        Or have school 2.5 day a week, just like with work. & focus on exercise. Thats 3 days a week of exercise, which was more than I was getting in year 9+.

        Its about giving people Options as long as we are seeing success. And I doubt anyone is more committed to make their children a success than parents.

  • +1

    I don't for a second believe anyone here will be more productive by WFH. There is no way you aren't going to check up on deals every minute when there is no one around to keep watch.

    • This might sound hard to believe, but some of us are adults who take pride in our work, or we have firm deadlines/targets which we need to meet.

      Working isn't about clocking hours (as much as the 45 year olds who dread going back home want it to be). You're in the wrong decade.

  • +7

    Knowing many people managers in the public service, I wouldn't trust my workers either. The stories of slacking I heard were unbelievable, while the sense of entitlement was shocking. There was one instance where one worker was taking sick leave every week or trying to work from home as much as they could, so that could actually spend their working hours being front of house staff for their husband's restaurant. All while complaining they have too much work on. They got busted, told not to do it again, then in three weeks went back to doing it again. Couldn't understand why it was a problem. They got paid about 150k for their government job too.

    • I agree. There is no guarantee that the worker would be 100% focused on their job when there are so many distractions at home.

    • +1

      At the risk of sounding arrogant or looking down on government employees, 100% agree.

      One thing for companies who have much higher hiring standards / a naturally high proportion of high achiever types to allow consistent WFH. Much much less likely to be effective in a scenario where employees are known to be slackers.

    • +1

      Sounds like a problem with the employee, not WFH. I doubt that employee is working any harder in the office. They're clearly just bludgers who need to be let go.

      • The point is, WFH is the enabler. It’s the carrot teasing the donkey. Without it, there’d be less temptation to bludge.

        • So you want everyone to work in the office just to make up for the businesses lack of effective hiring?

          Sounds like a classic case of government. Outsource the problem to someone else, it's never our fault!

          • @SlavOz: Incorrect, it’s due to the lack of good work ethic by employees.

            Let’s be honest, people at home, not monitored, are more inclined to bludge.

            It’s human nature.

            • @pogichinoy: If someone doesn't have good work ethic while WFH what makes you think they'll have good work ethic at the office? Just because you can watch them like a hawk, that's still time wasted for managers having to write up warnings or observe them every 10 minutes.

              Like I said they need to get better at hiring better staff. I don't believe it's human nature to bludge. Humans are hard wired to seek meaning and fulfilment, not to sit around and do nothing.

              But I will agree that government jobs are a whole different story. Only the government could hire shit people, and then hire even more people to make sure the shit people don't make the government's shit hiring look shit.

              • @SlavOz: They’ll have a better work ethic at the office because there are more people there whom can watch what they do.

                And as much as it is a tedious process to sack someone, you don’t need to observe them every 10 mins. If you’ve managed people before, you performance manage them, investigate their internet usage, etc which isn’t that difficult to do.

                Point stands that it is easier to keep an eye on your team in the office than at home. Do you really think productivity is the same or increased since we’ve been WFH?

                • @pogichinoy: Yes, many companies reported an increase in productivity while WFH. Spoken to all my friends who say the same thing about their company.



                  Australia is behind the curve in flexible working, many countries around the world have a prominent WFH culture and the risk of people bludging is quite easy to manage so it's not a big issue. Productivity is fine for most companies, as long they know what they're doing.

                  • +1

                    @SlavOz: You do know that is a survey right? That’s not concrete evidence. Just people claiming they are more productive which is predictable because I’m sure most workers would like to be working from home indefinitely.

                    We need proper productivity statistics to back up such claims.

                    • @pogichinoy: Won't get that out of a large government agency though.

                      Is too much work, they flat out already /sarcasm.

    • +1

      What job is this? I want to apply

      $150k and working for home is my dream job

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