Geelong embraces hybrid working

A study by the Victorian Chamber of Commerce has offered an insight into Geelong’s post-pandemic return-to-office trends.

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Following our return to office survey of Melbourne CBD businesses, a study of Geelong’s CBD has delivered similar results, highlighting a steady flow back to the office but with scope for flexibility.

The survey asked SMEs and large businesses across more than 12 sectors about their average days in the office, company requirements, barriers and incentives to return, productivity and their future outlook.

Overall, it found staff are spending on average 3.5 days a week in the office in Geelong.

Only 14 per cent are yet to return to the office in any capacity, with 36 per cent 2-3 days a week and 45 per cent 4-5 days a week.

In terms of office mandates, 32 per cent of businesses have not introduced a required a minimum number of days in the office per week.

About 27 per cent of businesses have asked staff to return three days a week, 18 per cent four days and 9 per cent five days.

Office occupancy peaks early to middle of the week, with the main days in the office being Tuesday (30 per cent) and Monday and Wednesday (23 per cent). Fridays are proving to be the least busy office days.

The main barriers to returning to office are productivity (45 per cent) and work-life balance (20 per cent). To mitigate this, all companies surveyed offered some form of incentive to encourage employees back to the office, including social initiatives or free coffee/lunch options.

Surveyed businesses were split when it came to the question of productivity, with half seeing a productivity increase at home and half in the office.

Ultimately, most businesses (72 per cent) said they expected employees to return to the office full-time in the post pandemic future.

Victorian Chamber of Commerce and Industry Chief Executive Paul Guerra said: “This survey provides the first detailed look at the return to office in Geelong and it’s a good news story. The results show that most people are back working in the office for two or more days a week as businesses adopt hybrid working arrangements.

“What’s encouraging is that people are embracing the social connection and enhanced collaboration and learning that in-person working offers. It’s also good for businesses in Geelong that benefit from increased trade by having more people in the CBD.

“But we also know that with the increased COVID cases and other illness during winter, that businesses will work with their staff to ensure there is appropriate flexibility in place. As a result, it will be some time before we know exactly where the level of office-based working will settle.”

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