Return to office in full swing as full-time commuters double

Return to office in full swing as full-time commuters double

The number of workers mandated to attend the office five days a week has doubled in the last 12 months, a new survey of 1000 Australian employees has found.

Almost four out of 10 (39 per cent) full-time staff are now expected to attend work in person every weekday.

This is a sharp jump from two out of 10 (19 per cent) at the same time last year, according to research by recruiting company Robert Half.

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In a sign that Australian companies have well and truly moved on from pandemic work-from-home orders, only one in seven office workers currently have full flexibility with no mandated in-office days – a figure that has budged little in the past year.

However, while in 2023 the most common rate of office attendance was four days a week (at 28 per cent), this year that has shifted to the full five days a week.

It’s a similar story for those attending three days per week – a number which has fallen from 26 per cent in 2023 to 17 per cent.

Despite the major shift, most employees reported being satisfied with their work arrangements.

However, the number of people dissatisfied grew with an increase in office days.

Only 15 per cent of those who attend the office two days a week said they were unsatisfied with this arrangement, but 23 per cent who attend four or five days a week reported being unsatisfied.

Nine in ten employees recognised the positive benefits of working from the office, including improved communications, teamwork and enhanced company culture and sense of belonging.

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At the same time, most workers (84 per cent) also identified negatives, the most common being the added costs of commuting and lunch, a lack of work-life balance and increased stress.

“The pendulum is swinging back to pre-pandemic levels where working-from-home was an anomaly rather than an expectation,” Robert Half Director Andrew Brushfield said.

“In the current workplace landscape where flexibility is the new high-level currency for many employees, not everyone is pleased with this change of direction away from remote and hybrid work.”

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