Victorian businesses will be able to bring more of their employees back to their offices next week, following an announcement from Premier Daniel Andrews this morning.
The state recorded its 27th day without community transmission of COVID-19 on Tuesday, paving the way for a further return to office-based working.
From Monday, February 8, private sector offices will be able to have up to 75% capacity, up from the previous cap of 50%.
Public sector offices will also be able to return to 75% from Monday.
“That surely will be good news and very strongly welcomed by bars, cafes and restaurants, all of that sector and many other service providers, particularly in the inner city,” Andrews said during a press conference on Monday.
Eateries in the Melbourne CBD previously told SmartCompany they were eagerly anticipating the return of more office workers to the city, although, for the once-busy businesses, there was a sense they were starting from scratch after the extreme challenges of 2020.
There will likely be challenges too for the office-based businesses that are now bringing their teams back together and potentially adopting ‘hybrid’ models of work that will include remote working on a long-term basis.
A recent survey of 400 Australian employees by GetApp found 35% of respondents now prefer to work from home two to three days a week, with the rest of their time spent in the office.
In Victoria, workplaces will still need to adhere to strict record-keeping requirements as they bring more employees back to the office, which means keeping a record for all workers and all visitors who are on the premises for longer than 15 minutes.
The government will also introduce legislation to the Victorian parliament this week to extend Victoria’s state of emergency until December 15.
The state of emergency allows the government to issue public health directions, including requiring workplaces to have COVIDSafe plans.
Speaking on Tuesday morning, the Premier also encouraged Victorians who previously used public transport to get to work to start doing so again, as the cap on office workers is lifted to 75%.
“If public transport wasn’t safe, the chief health officer wouldn’t allow us to run it,” he said.
Victorians using public transport should still wear face masks, said Andrews, who said further announcements about public transport will be made later this week.