An Australian company has ditched the office for good, with all 500 staff members allowed to work from home on a permanent basis.
Yellow Pages publishers Thryv Australia, previously Sensis, once occupied an entire office building of nine levels in the Melbourne CBD. But after large-scale job cuts and and changes made to the business over the past seven to eight years, they shrunk to just two floors.
The two levels of the office building at 222 Lonsdale Street are currently being sublet to the company and once the lease expires in just under three years time, Thryv will not occupy any office space in the country and won’t pay office rent.
Yellow Pages publisher Thryv Australia, formerly Sensis, has decided to ditch the office (pictured) and have all 500 staff work remotely
John Allen, chief executive of Thryv Australia, said the decision was escalated by the Covid pandemic.
‘What we learned during the pandemic is that we can operate with a high degree of productivity when employees work from home,’ Mr Allan told The Australian Financial Review.
Chief executive John Allen (pictured) says the decision has been escalated by the pandemic
‘People told us they were happy to work from home, and it made us rethink our whole way of working.’
‘We surveyed our staff multiple times [about the work from anywhere strategy] and they were overwhelmingly supportive.’
He commented the company had previously used both work from home and office model when Melbourne’s first lockdown ended but noticed productivity suffered than when all staff worked remotely.
Mr Allen also said it would allow the company to expand in terms of recruitment, with the ability to hire staff regardless of where they lived.
Despite the benefits to working remotely, Mr Allen also stressed the right technological set-up is integral for success alongside connecting staff, mental health wellbeing and a high degree of trust between staff and management teams.
Mr Allen says remote working allows the company to hire staff regardless of their location
Under the new remote working model, Thryv is set to host face-to-face meetings in Melbourne as well as a minimum of two all-company events a year alongside virtual events where they plan to fly in 30 per cent of staff based outside Victoria.
Danni Hunter, Victorian executive director of the Property Council of Australia, commented that while Thryv was more the exception than the rule, a trend of changes to the work space were being seen by the council.
‘Lots of businesses are making or have made decisions about what the return to the workplace looks like. We have seen that in the high amount of activity in the subleasing market.
She said while businesses aren’t taking up less space, they are changing how they use it, especially with businesses returning to the office when the state hits its 80 per cent fully vaccinated target which is expected to be around November 5.
Danni Hunter, Victorian executive director of the Property Council of Australia says the council is seeing trends of changes occurring in workplaces, especially around returning to the workplace after Covid lockdown
Ms Hunter also commented government will need to encourage and entire people to come back into and revitalise the city for work, expecting it would take months for occupancy to rise from its 6 per cent levels currently.
The decision by the owner of the 140-year-old company to completely ditch office spaces follows accounting giant PwC in America telling all 40,000 of their staff to work from home remotely anywhere in the country, with a catch of a pay cut if they move to locations with lower living costs.
Australian company and tech giant Atlassian is allowing staff to work from home or the new office new $1 billion headquarters being built in Sydney, even after Covid restrictions are lifted.
Staff at multinational professional services network Deloitte will also be allowed to decide for themselves when they would like to return to the office and the hours they work under a new company policy as they eliminate set start and finish times.
Other Australian companies Atlassian and Deloitte are allowing staff to work from home or decide when they want to return back to the office