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Chief Executive | Toward a balanced future of flexible work

  • November 22, 2023
  • by Mike Zorbas
The benefits of face-to-face working must be balanced with work from home needs

The two-day weekend was widely popularised on both sides of the Atlantic in the early twentieth century. So far, so great.

Changes over the last decade or two, hastened by the pandemic and technology, have yielded even more precise control over our five or so working days. Equally good, noting you must be a ‘white collar worker’ to enjoy these.

And yet all things in moderation, flexibility included.

So said the Fair Work Commission of the federal government’s new flexible work laws this week.

As the AFR editorial summarised it, “a Fair Work Commissioner ruled there were “reasonable business grounds” for an employer to order employees to be in the office because of the training, cultural and productivity benefits of face-to-face interactions”.

But the presumption of a right to work from home ad infinitum remains unrefuted.

Earlier this year the Community and Public Sector Union won the removal of any caps on presumptive days working from home for its 120,000 members.

So five days a week remains in play.

The obligation is on the nation’s largest employer to assert the primacy of the human condition, that by and large we are social creatures who benefit from face-to-face contact with our peers (a few days a week). Poor outcome.

There will be cases where five remote days a week may be needed, for a time, occasionally for a long time.

To presume working from home should be a permanent state is not a trap Australia can afford to fall into.


Still in play. More next week.