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ACT public servants retain flexible working rights post-pandemic

Canberra is leading the way in post-pandemic workplace innovation with ACT public servants given the right to continue flexible working arrangements after restrictions ease.

International human resource company, the Adecco Group, surveyed 8,000 office-based workers from Australia, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Spain, the UK and the USA and found the majority of workers wanted to retain greater flexibility after coronavirus, with a 50/50 split of remote and office time the universal ideal.

Member for Yerrabi, Deepak-Raj Gupta, introduced the motion into the ACT Legislative Assembly after consultations with his constituents confirmed remote working as an overwhelmingly positive experience.

Mr Gupta said around 70% wanted to keep working from home.

“For the majority of people, working from home has been really good for their mental health,” he said.

“Without the stress of commuting, people were able to spend quality time with their family, they were able to cook more and eat healthy food.

“It’s been good for productivity, people feel trusted by their employers and when you feel trusted you work harder, you’re more efficient and you achieve better results.”

Mr Gupta said he had asked ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr to write to the Australian Public Service (APS) Commissioner to ask for flexible working arrangements to be extended to the federal public service, after receiving reports of confusion of workplace rights and restrictions from federal employees.

Mr Gupta said his own experience working from his Gungahlin home had allowed him to enjoy more quality time with his wife, children, and parents.

“I used to have a demanding evening schedule, but now I am responsible for cooking dinner and I’m better able to better contribute to my household,” he said.

Mr Gupta highlights potential benefits to the local economy with money being distributed more equitably throughout the suburbs.

“If I had a meeting in the city, I would spend my money in the city, but I’m here in Gungahlin supporting Gungahlin businesses and that’s exactly what we need to do right now.”

Mr Gupta’s business acumen comes from his time as a small business owner and member of the Canberra Business Chamber.

After migrating to Melbourne in 1989 with less than $100, he worked his way from car washer to call centre operator, and a promotion from operator to business analyst brought him to Canberra.

Mr Gupta said coronavirus had caused widespread industry disruption, but local businesses had adapted well, and he hoped they too could work with employees to achieve flexibility.

“We take it one step at a time but hopefully the success in the public service will lead the way for small business to work with their employees to achieve flexible working arrangements.”

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