Workforce | Skills // Economy

Flexible work is here to stay: ANZ

One of Australia’s biggest banks, ANZ, has joined the growing list of businesses that will allow staff to continue working from home under a hybrid work model, as employers grapple with workplace flexibility in a post-COVID-19 world.

One of Australia’s biggest banks, ANZ, has joined the growing list of businesses that will allow staff to continue working from home under a hybrid work model, as employers grapple with workplace flexibility in a post-COVID-19 world.  

“Over the last 12 months, we've realised there are benefits for us, and there are benefits for our people, being able to work some of those days at home and some of those days in the office,” ANZ Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Alexis George told a recent CEDA livestream on the transformation of Australia’s workforce 

So we’ve decided as we look forward that we will have a blended way of working, with two-to-three days in the office every week and two or three days at home.  

“It is really important for us to continue with the culture that we think we need to survive and thrive in this new world.”  

The move is a significant shift for ANZ, with Ms George noting that more than two-thirds of its workers were office-based prior to COVID-19  

Ms George was joined by Microsoft Australia Chief Operating Officer, Steven Miller and PwC Australia Future of Work Lead, Dr Ben Hamer.   

Mr Miller said being forced to work from home had tested the agility and responsiveness of most organisations.   

“It has forced us to adapt to change more rapidly than we probably ever thought possible, and it's also shone a light on where the existing technologies and workplace environments have been lacking,” he said.   

“It also helped us really think about the work processes that we have and how they needed to be reinvented.”   

Mr Miller said there were some important lessons learnt around digital fatigue and the need for human connection at work.   

A survey of workers from Microsoft and other companies found that about 60 per cent of employees felt less connected than before COVID-19 struck, he said.   

“Employees are really feeling a need for the informal contact and the spontaneous interaction that you get from a working environment, from a collective environment, where people are moving about a building, and that is really quite difficult to meet in a strictly work-from-home environment,” Mr Miller said  

He said some companies were looking at innovative ways to increase social cohesion, such as online bots for water cooler apps that connect employees from across the globe  

While flexible ways of working and other workforce trends already existed prior to COVID-19, Dr Hamer said these changes have become a lot more pronounced and complex.   

“One thing that I found quite interesting was a study that Atlassian put out last year during the pandemic, and they found that 43 per cent of knowledge workers had actually never, or very rarely, worked from home,” Dr Hamer said.   

Whilst all of these policies existed, it wasn't necessarily as much of a thing as we thought it was for a range of reasonswhich also talks to the need for the mindset and behavioural shift which comes with adopting these new ways of working.”  

It’s about choosing the environment for your day, and our research shows us that people want to go into the office for collaboration and people connection, and be at home for deep thinking and administrative tasks.”