The world has changed: Barr sets hybrid work course for ACT public servants

Ian Bushnell 8 December 2021 176
Chief Minister Andrew Barr

ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr: “There will no longer be an operating requirement of compulsory attendance, if you like, at an ACT Government office building nine to five.” Photo: Ian Bushnell.

The days of nine to five, five days a week at the office are over for ACT Government public servants as they embrace a hybrid work model post-pandemic.

Last week, Chief Minister Andrew Barr told the Legislative Assembly that the world had changed and the ACT was changing with it, particularly as the government needed to offer flexible work options to attract the best staff in a highly competitive jobs market.

Asked by Liberal MLA James Milligan when public servants would be returning to the office, out of concern for struggling small businesses, Mr Barr said they would not be all returning to the office because they would be adopting a hybrid working model from now on.

“If Mr Milligan followed the budget statements he would be aware that the government is investing in a number of ACT Government workplaces, new hubs, in town centres,” Mr Barr said.

“We are decentralising our employment, so it will no longer be the case that directorate X will be in location Y. People will be able to work across a number of different ACT Government office buildings and they will undertake hybrid working arrangements that meet their needs and the needs of the business unit that they work for and ensure that they can deliver the services that are required.”

Mr Barr said public servants would be able to work at locations that are most convenient to them, including at home.

“They may well be working out of the Gungahlin ACT Government office building if they live in Gungahlin and that suits them, and they may well be working out of the Woden ACT Government building if they live in the Woden area and that suits them; similarly, in Tuggeranong, in Belconnen, in the city and in Dickson,” he said.

“So there will no longer be an operating requirement of compulsory attendance, if you like, at an ACT Government office building nine to five.”

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Asked by Liberal MLA Peter Cain how many days public servants would be in the office compared with at home, Mr Barr said it was likely to be one to two days a week in the office and the rest at home across most directorates.

“This is a global trend,” Mr Barr said. “The way we will attract and retain the highest quality staff is to have flexibility in working arrangements.

“So we will never go back to nine to five, Monday to Friday, everyone in the same office all together. That world is over, it is done.

“That is the case for all major businesses in this country as well. In fact, I think even the Commonwealth is allowing a degree of flexibility for their own public servants as well.

“The world has changed. The future of work has changed and we must be flexible and allow for hybrid working arrangements.”

Mr Barr said there would be more staff back in the office, but it would never return to what it was pre-pandemic.

“That era is over,” Mr Barr said.

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176 Responses to The world has changed: Barr sets hybrid work course for ACT public servants
BM BM 6:55 pm 10 Dec 21

I see the lawn mowing crew are still working from home.

    bj_ACT bj_ACT 10:52 am 11 Dec 21

    Good call. I think the tee pruning guys have joined them too.

James Fa'oa James Fa'oa 6:15 pm 10 Dec 21

Welcome to the Metaverse.

Ctl_Alt_Del Ctl_Alt_Del 8:34 am 10 Dec 21

Flexible work arrangements are a good idea but there are a few pitfalls. When an agency places product over presence there’s the risk that the workforce moves towards contractual arrangements rather than ongoing employment with entitlements and conditions. In addition, what I’ve seen during lockdown, with people working from home home and connecting via Office365, is that staff will often work longer hours (including on weekends) and when they’re sick and wouldn’t ordinarily come into the office.

privatepublic privatepublic 5:01 am 10 Dec 21

A number of ACT Gov friends work from home and not one has had a OH&S review, all are complaining about back problems and cannot afford upwards of 1000aud for a chair. Business and government spend big bucks on ergonomic items for their workplace in lessening the risk of injury/litigation.

And no the local office suppliers (monopoly) sell rubbish.

And that leads me to the point that the federal departments/agencies and business (corporates) are thinking ahead

Daniel Shamoun Daniel Shamoun 10:51 pm 09 Dec 21

Its great the majority are supporting this move, ya learn a fair bit from facebook comments though when there's still oddballs out there completely against this move.

Of course some scepticism is warranted and it's important to be wary of the unintended consequences of progressive policy (which is basically the job of y'all conservatives anyways) but shit this should have been implemented slowly ages ago as the technology has progressively allowed for it tbh

Kerry Apted Kerry Apted 3:45 pm 09 Dec 21


Samantha Freeman Samantha Freeman 1:44 pm 09 Dec 21

Tell that to the Federal Govt. No one has moved to a hybrid model, only state Govt

Grant Rule Grant Rule 1:20 pm 09 Dec 21

It's only a rought if you're not involved typical Labor government looking after there own standard.

Anissa Jones Anissa Jones 8:46 am 09 Dec 21

So teachers fall under that too? They are public servants after all….

Kathy Wilson Kathy Wilson 8:30 am 09 Dec 21

Cliff Quinn, this sounds like good news for Suz and all the others there 😀

    Cliff Quinn Cliff Quinn 10:31 am 09 Dec 21

    Kathy Wilson would be if she was ACT public service 👍

    Kathy Wilson Kathy Wilson 10:32 am 09 Dec 21

    Cliff Quinn silly me, thought it was all the same 😂😂

Ian_ M Ian_ M 8:08 am 09 Dec 21

Well your not exactly aspirational if you work for the ACT public service, so staying at home won’t hurt your prospects.

Melissa Hobbs Melissa Hobbs 7:46 am 09 Dec 21

About time!

Paul Webster Paul Webster 2:19 am 09 Dec 21

Titch titch, I shake my head. Here we go. Another carriage being added to the gravy train.

Jackie Lee Jackie Lee 10:17 pm 08 Dec 21

Penelope Jane Katy Last this makes absolutely no sense and I don’t like it

    Penelope Jane Penelope Jane 10:21 pm 08 Dec 21

    Jackie Lee I know. It's the world we live in.

    Katy Last Katy Last 10:43 pm 08 Dec 21

    🤷🏻‍♀️ sounds alright to me! just means we'll need to organise more after work drinks and lunch time meetings.

Anastasia Sissi Anastasia Sissi 8:22 pm 08 Dec 21

Great news.

Kurt von Demleux Kurt von Demleux 4:46 pm 08 Dec 21

Consti Nikias Marcus Cataldo this is ridiculous 😂

    Consti Nikias Consti Nikias 5:24 pm 08 Dec 21

    Kurt von Demleux honestly just happy that the line at Brindabella Business Park Mees Sushi won’t be as bad come midday

Alistair Scott Alistair Scott 4:22 pm 08 Dec 21

This includes the ACT police who are now working from home. No vigilantes to see here move along

Sonia De La Fosse-auxRenards Sonia De La Fosse-auxRenards 4:03 pm 08 Dec 21

When, where? All I am hearing from my public servant friends is that they *have* to come back to work on site right now, no possible flexibility, at a stupid time just before Christmas, and just after having demonstrated that these workers work as effectively (and while being happier & healthier) from home. It doesn't make sense. And that policy should have been thought of and put in place two months ago. I am waiting to see if these workers who have been forced to come back to work on site will be given flexibility now.

    Kerry Apted Kerry Apted 9:12 pm 08 Dec 21

    Those friends must work for Federal government.

Zoe Lewer Zoe Lewer 11:12 am 08 Dec 21

What's not to like? Flexible workplaces, less traffic, more local. It's time we recognised most administrative jobs can be done at least most of the time from home, go into the office for collaboration and teams. Hopefully will reduce infectious diseases and the health issues of sitting in fluros in front of a computer for 8 hrs developing heart disease. I love our ACT government

Mary-Ellen Bradley Mary-Ellen Bradley 10:57 am 08 Dec 21

Gavin Hailee does this affect you

    Gavin Bradley Gavin Bradley 8:43 pm 09 Dec 21

    Mary-Ellen Bradley not us this is only ACT gov

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