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Insurance staff volunteer for office return

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QBE and Hollard are allowing small numbers of employees to “opt-in” to an office return, but there is not yet any large-scale reversal of the industry’s coronavirus-inspired switch to home working as Victoria continues to battle a second wave.

Other insurers remain more cautious, with IAG saying only those with “an essential need” to return are currently back in their usual workplaces, and its preference is for everyone who can work from home to continue to do so.

The insurer told that further opening up of sites would require “sustained, very low community transmission”.

“Our target for very low community transmission is defined as less than five cases per day for 14 days,” a spokesman said.

Suncorp says it is taking a “considered approach” in each state, depending on government advice.

“Right now, the majority of our people remain working from home with the exception of our stores teams and a small cohort who have started returning to the office in a staged approach,” a spokeswoman said.

QBE says there is “no expectation” for anyone to return to the office, and working from home has been “a remarkable success”.

“However, we are offering an ‘opt-in’ process for non-Victorian based employees who’ve specifically stated they wish to return to the office,” a spokesman said.

Hollard says staff surveys show 20% of employees are “ready and keen” to come back to its Sydney office, at least for some days each week.

As a result, it launched a test phase of its return-to-office plan to support employees in a “controlled environment”. About 5% of the workforce is scheduled to work in the office during the test phase.

“We will use the learnings of the test phase to ensure larger numbers of employees can return to the office safely, when the right time comes,” the insurer says.

“Ultimately, we understand the future of how we all work will look different from how we used to work. For now, our priority is the health and safety of everyone in the Hollard family and we are pleased to be able to support a small group of employees who are ready to be in the office – safely.”