Will all the Perthites who’ve been working from home during this Omicron outbreak obediently resume their daily commutes and re-embrace old routines when the infection wave flattens? Many will because they’ll have no choice, short of switching employers.
But a fair chunk won’t and there will be knock-on effects. Ripples or waves — we don’t know yet and CBD traders and property landlords are fretting on the outcome.
A Productivity Commission review predicted the WFH revolution was here to stay, regardless of the pandemic’s course. Based on surveys which consistently show that office workers would like to split their week between the home and the office, Commission chairman Michael Brennan believes employers — wary of losing good workers in a tight labour market — will grant their wish.
“A hybrid model is tending to emerge as the model that many workplaces are gravitating towards,” he said.
Not everyone can work from home, but 35 per cent of the workforce can and many of these are in the types of jobs performed in CBD office towers.
Some employers, whose leases are up soon, will ponder if they need as much office space. How much can they save by downsizing?
All of this has the potential for transformative change in our cities and no small amount of pain, too. Mindful of this pain, Premier Mark McGowan is urging workers to return to their offices, but many government agencies are ignoring the call.