Businesses should forget trying to return to “normal” and allow their employees to work from both home and office, one executive says.

Telstra group executive for transformation, communications and people Alex Badenoch will tell business leaders “we don’t waste time debating who should be in the office and when”.

In a speech at a Trans-Tasman Business Circle event on Tuesday, Ms Badenoch warns top talent will “walk” if they cannot align work requirements with their own values and expectations.

Telstra, which is among Australia’s biggest employers, commissioned research on hybrid working from Deloitte Access Economics in 2021 that busted the myth that workers need to get back to the office to be productive.

“Instead, we need to consider if forcing people back into the office is the right answer or should we be focused on supporting people to work from anywhere with the right tools – hybrid working,” she will say.

The future will bring practical training in a virtual world and meetings in the a new artificial and virtual reality known as the metaverse.

But the so-called “great resignation” seen in the United States does not apply here in Australia, Ms Badenoch says.

“The term creates an image of on mass departures and widespread demand for huge pay increases. This does not reflect what we are seeing or experiencing.”

She believes it is instead the “great realignment” where people are taking time to consider why they work, what they do and who they work for.

With much industry talk about the number of days employees will be asked to work in the office, Ms Badenoch warns against limiting their flexibility.

“Most people will want to physically reconnect, you don’t have to tell them to,” she says.

“But if I tell them, they won’t want to do it.”


Marion Rae
(Australian Associated Press)