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.”
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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.”
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.