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Work from home crackdown: Origin and Suncorp to pay staff less for skipping office

Workers at the Aussie companies risk having their bonuses cut if they don’t come into the office.

Work from home continues to be popular among Aussie jobseekers, despite employers using new tactics to incentivise staff back into the office.

Origin Energy and Suncorp have now started linking staff bonuses to office attendance. In theory, that means employees risk having their bonuses cut if they don’t front up as required. The two Aussie companies introduced policies this year specifying how often employees were expected to work in the office.

Origin has a hybrid working model for all office-based staff and requires them to come into the office at least 40 per cent of the time, which it describes as a “modest expectation”.

Origin and Suncorp work from home and office attendance
Origin and Suncorp are linking staff bonuses to office attendance, which may come as bad new to some work from home lovers. (Source: Reuters/Getty)

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A spokesperson confirmed the company started linking office attendance to its annual performance-review process in October.

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“We believe a balance between work and home locations enables connection, collaboration, productivity, and health and well-being benefits,” the Origin spokesperson said.

Suncorp requires employees to follow the hybrid working plans agreed to with their managers. These plans are included in employee “scorecards”, which help work out annual bonuses.

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"Our hybrid work plans aren’t there specifically to mandate office attendance and only represent a very small percentage of an overall performance rating,” a Suncorp Group spokesperson said.

The spokesperson acknowledged that a one-size-fits-all approach to hybrid working wasn’t effective and noted that workers had the opportunity to develop alternative flexible work arrangements.

“The intention of including these plans in our scorecards is acknowledging the role our ways of working plays in our culture and to provide clarity, something our people have been asking for through our regular feedback channels,” the spokesperson said.

A global Herbert Smith Freehills survey found 37 per cent Aussie employers were planning to differentiate pay between remote and in-office staff in the next three to five years.

WFH remains popular

Despite some companies cracking down on office attendance, new data has revealed work from home still remains popular among both employers looking for staff and jobseekers.

The share of Australian job postings mentioning ‘work from home’ or similar phrases was at a high of 12.1 per cent on Indeed at the end of September. This was up from 12 per cent a year ago and just 4.4 per cent prior to the start of the pandemic.

Workers are still keen for work from home too, with 2.4 per cent of searches on the job site for remote work. This is almost six times higher than pre-pandemic levels.

Indeed economist Callam Pickering said it was likely work from home would come to an end for some jobs, but stick around for others.

“Employers who only tentatively embraced WFH arrangements are the most likely to change course - in fact many already are,” Pickering said.

“But those employers that dramatically changed their work structure and systems to accommodate remote work are perhaps more committed to these new arrangements and less likely to change course, even if labour market conditions cool.”

Jobs offering work from home

So, where can you still find a job offering work from home? According to Indeed, insurance roles have the highest share of job postings mentioning remote work (34.3 per cent).

Next was software-development jobs (33.1 per cent), followed by IT operations and help desk jobs (31.6 per cent).

Civil engineering roles (29.4 per cent) and mathematics roles (29 per cent) rounded out the top five.

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