Close Contact Isolation Rules
Currently, all Australian states and territories require close contacts to isolate for seven days from the last time they were in contact with someone with COVID-19.
According to the Department of Health, over the past week, there have been an average of almost 40.5K new cases reported each day with 396.3K active cases. Based on an average household size of 2.53 in Australia, the figures suggest that almost a million Australians are in isolation per week.
Businesses are calling for the seven-day isolation rule to be scrapped. They argue that if a person is already vaccinated, displaying no symptoms, and tested negative, there is no need to put them in isolation. Australia is still facing severe understaffing so the least business want right now is for their healthy staff to stay at home.
NSW and Victoria poised to end isolation for household COVID-19 contacts by this weekend. SA is also considering following NSW and Victoria within weeks but nothing for sure can be said at the moment. As for the rest of Australia, no official announcement was made on easing the close contact rule.
Employees just don’t want to be back at the office.
In a recent survey of 500 Australian workers for Liberated Work, by Worktech Academy and commissioned by co-working operator Hub Australia, only one in five staff see themselves returning full-time to the office and 19% believe that traditional offices will be obsolete within the next decade.
The survey also suggests that hybrid and flexible work is the future for white-collar businesses: more than half of those surveyed said they would forego income increases or promotions in exchange for more work flexibility.
Besides health concerns, workers prefer working from home so they can skip commuting. This is especially important since gas price spiked as a result of the Ukraine-Russia conflict. Also, many argue that they manage time better when working from home which result in efficiency and better work-life balance.
Return to office… not anytime soon
A new COVID variant, named “Omicron XE”, recently emerged and is said to be more contagious than the previous variants. If Australia sees more cases of this new variant, the close contact isolation rule along with other restrictions may be reconsidered.
In the unpredictable time like this, hybrid working model will continue to dominate the office place. Firms, especially accounting firms, should invest more in their digital workplace and accept that staff can work from anywhere. Only then will they be able to thrive and stay competitive. If you’d like to talk more about how Odyssey can assist your firm, drop us a line.