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Aussies refusing to go back to the office: ‘I’ll quit’

Aussies are voicing their frustrations at the prospect of having to return to working from the office.

A composite image of office workers sitting on stairs in the city and leaked CBA messages with staff venting their anger about needing to return to working in the office.
CBA staff were quick to question the move to require them back in the office. (Source: AAP / Instagram @theaussiecorporate)

Commonwealth Bank (CBA) is just the latest Aussie employer to demand its 49,000 workers come into the office for at least 50 per cent of their working time.

And Aussies are not happy. Internal messages from CBA staff - leaked to the popular The Aussie Corporate Instagram account - showed many employees were furious with the move, one even describing reactions as a “bloodbath”.

A screenshot of the Instagram story published by The Aussie Corporate which showed a CBA staff member complaining about the return to office requirement.
Leaked messages from CBA staff showed they were not happy about the requirement to return to the office. (Source: Instagram)

But it’s not just CBA employees who don’t want to return to working in the office. On the AusFinance Reddit page, one user asked whether returning to the office for more than 50 per cent of the week would be a deal-breaker, and for many it certainly was.

“I go in two days a week and I find it pointless 80 per cent of the time. There is too much time wasted, small talk, coffees, morning teas, lunches ... If I’m asked to go in full time I’ll quit,” one user said in response.

“The time and money I save on commuting and laundry + the extra time I get to spend with my wife and baby & doing general life admin (I actually have the energy to cook or go [to] the gym instead of commuting for 2 hours a day) + the extra hour of sleep + the general better mental health from being overall happier is invaluable.

“In saying that, I know it is a privilege and I don’t kick my feet up and spin the mouse every so often so I appear as “online” on teams, I do my work.”

Can your boss force you to return to the office?

Around 50 per cent of hybrid and remote workers would consider quitting their job if they were forced back into the office full-time, a recent report by Employment Hero found.

More than 30 per cent were a definite ‘yes’, while 18 per cent were a ‘maybe’.

But just because we want to work from home doesn’t mean our bosses have to comply.

According to the Fair Work Ombudsman, “an employee can’t refuse an employer’s direction to perform work if the direction is reasonable and in line with their employer’s legal obligations”.

Under certain circumstances, employees may be able to refuse to return to work, if there is a reasonable concern about their health and safety, or other legitimate reasons.

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