Australian company NIB to pay employees $1,200 each to work from home


Employees at one of Australia’s biggest private health insurers will get paid $1,200 on top of their annual salary to stay at home, as the firm pivots into a post-Covid remote working model.

The announcement by CEO Mark Fitzgibbon comes as newly-appointed premier Domonic Perrotet is desperate to rush workers back into the struggling CBD as NSW vaccination rates surge.

Questions have been raised about the productivity of remote workers and a long list of bosses in Australia and across the globe have championed their return to office.

But Mr Fitzgibbon says those days are ‘long gone’ and that other companies should get onboard a more flexible working model which could even mean an end to the five-day work week.

Pioneer NIB CEO Mark Fitzgibbon (pictured with family) says the days of commuting to the office are ‘long gone’

With Sydney in lockdown the CBD (George Street pictured) is only operating at three per cent capacity

With Sydney in lockdown the CBD (George Street pictured) is only operating at three per cent capacity

‘An ongoing 12-monthly $1200 payment is really an acknowledgment that we are effectively renting people’s homes,’ the CEO told The Australian.

‘But the other change we are making is this idea that there is something magical about a five-day week – under this new policy, it can be four days, provided you are still working your 38 hours.’

In-house surveys of the NIB’s 1200 staff have found 79 per cent feel they are more productive and can do their best work from home – although many other studies from across the world dispute the model is a long-term winner for productivity.

One of the reasons workers are overwhelmingly in favour of the new plan is the significant amount of travel time it will save.

On average, they found employees will save the equivalent of five weeks sitting in cars, trains and buses on the way to work.

While Mr Fitzgibbon admits it’s not necessarily for everyone and that many workers will miss their colleagues, the extra time spent at home has helped foster deeper relationships with their family, children and neighbours.

While Mr Fitzgibbon (pictured working from home) admits it's not necessarily for everyone and that many workers will miss their colleagues, the extra time spent at home has helped foster deeper relationships with their family, children and neighbours

While Mr Fitzgibbon (pictured working from home) admits it’s not necessarily for everyone and that many workers will miss their colleagues, the extra time spent at home has helped foster deeper relationships with their family, children and neighbours

Moving forward the firm will sublet 75 per cent of their Newcastle, Sydney and Melbourne offices, only using the remaining space to finish off collaborative projects.

It is expected staff will work from home at least four days a week with one day or less reserved for face-to-face meetings.

But while NIB say they ‘haven’t missed a beat’ when it comes to their business performance, other Aussie bosses are gunning to get their staff back in the office.

National Australia Bank’ Ross McEwan has made his thoughts very clear on the subject: ‘I want our people back in the office to support the city’.

Newcrest Mining CEO Sandeep Biswas is also in agreement telling the Australian Financial Review: ‘The dislocation of moving away from office-based work to home has not been great for everybody.’

In the US, Apple has ordered its staff back to the office, while Wall Street Banks have also done the same.

One of the reasons workers are overwhelmingly in favour of Mr Fitzgibbon's (pictured) new plan is the significant amount of travel time it will save

One of the reasons workers are overwhelmingly in favour of Mr Fitzgibbon’s (pictured) new plan is the significant amount of travel time it will save

In-house surveys of the NIB's 1200 staff have found 79 per cent feel they are more productive and can do their best work from home - although many other studies from across the world dispute the model is a long-term winner for productivity (stock image)

In-house surveys of the NIB’s 1200 staff have found 79 per cent feel they are more productive and can do their best work from home – although many other studies from across the world dispute the model is a long-term winner for productivity (stock image)

‘If you want to get paid New York rates, you work in New York,’ Morgan Stanley CEO James Gorman said along with a chorus of other American financial firms.

‘None of this, ‘I’m in Colorado… and getting paid like I’m sitting in New York City.’ Sorry. That doesn’t work.’

Mr Perrottet on Thursday changed NSW’s roadmap out of lockdown by scrapping face masks for office workers when the jab rate hits 80 per cent on October 25.

Sydney’s CBD is currently at about three per cent capacity with local businesses in desperate need of foot traffic to stay afloat.

‘Face masks obviously, are important,’ he told ABC News Breakfast.

‘But ultimately, as you say, they’re an impediment for people going back into the office, so we made some changes last night which we’re going to announce later today.’

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