Telstra to host 'O-week' to entice employees back to office

Are mandates not enough? Maybe free coffee will do the trick

Telstra to host 'O-week' to entice employees back to office

With complimentary coffee, daily door prizes, and a string of fun side events, telecommunications company Telstra is innovating a new way of encouraging employees back to workplaces.

Dubbing it as the "O-Week," or the Orientation to Office Week, Telstra wants to remind employees what it feels like to return to offices.

"After a few years working from home, we all know the benefits by now," said Telstra chief executive officer Andrew Penn on a LinkedIn post. "But to mark the lifting of many restrictions around the country, we're holding our first 'O Week': a chance for everyone to rediscover what a few days in the office can be like."

Alex Badenoch, Telstra's "head of people," told the Australian Financial Review that the week-long event will grant employees access to free coffee, some prizes, and other benefits.

"Telstra team members can take part in fireside chats with our leaders, get a sharp new headshot, take tours of some of our most unusual spaces, and most importantly, catch-up in-person with each other," said Badenoch, Telstra's "head of people," on a f LinkedIn post.

"For the many of us ready to start maximising the benefits of hybrid working, O-Week is our chance to connect in person, laugh-out-loud with colleagues and re-explore our amazing spaces," she added.

Read more: Ad giant opens up about return to office

'Pro-flexibility'

The university-style orientation week seeks to encourage the company's over 30,000-strong workforce to return to their offices after COVID-19 sent staff members to remote work.

According to Penn, he has been asked many times when the company plans to mandate employees to workplaces - an inquiry that he described as "wrong."

"A lot of people ask me when we'll be making everyone return to the office. To me, that's the wrong question. We're not pro-office or pro-work from home. We’re pro-flexibility. 

The company is currently pushing for a hybrid work set-up to give employees the luxury of where they want to be productive.

"Whether our team are ready to, or even want to come back to the office, is completely their choice," said Badenoch.

"With the exception of some roles that need to be done onsite, our team can work where, when, and how you're the most engaged, safe, and productive."

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