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NSW office workers back to their desks - but after Christmas

NSW office workers are being told to return to their desks from December 14 as the country slowly reaches a new normal.

Consultants don't expect an immediate return of workers with employers expected to make plans over Christmas, while one of Australia's biggest office landlords rethinks how to run its lifts in a COVID-19-safe way as employees come back.

The Business Council of Australia, who has called for a return to offices to revitalise businesses in central business districts, welcomed the decision by the NSW government to ease coronavirus health restrictions.

Premier Gladys Berejiklian announced on Wednesday her government would lift a public health order on December 14 requiring employers to allow employees to work from home unless it was absolutely necessary they were in the office.

"Private companies and organisations can make decisions about what they do with their employees into the New Year," Ms Berejiklian said.

Business Council head Jennifer Westacott said the latest easing of restrictions, which included a lifting on household and outdoor gatherings to up to 50 people, was proof NSW had the right COVID-systems in place.

"The government has given new hope and confidence to the business community of NSW who can now make decisions in time for Christmas," she said. "People’s jobs depend on finding ways to live alongside this virus and NSW is leading the way."

Laura Applebee-Jones, partner at business consulting group Fifth Frame, said her clients would use the Christmas break to plan how employees will return.

She said some were considering booking systems while limiting the amount of people back on deck at up to 60 per cent.

"What does that new world of work, new hybrid working model look like?" Ms Applebee-Jones said. "This just gives them clearer guidance."


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