Aussie boss admits to crazy WFH policy

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An Aussie boss has revealed he encourages all his staff to work from home every day — but this policy comes with a massive catch.

Greg Weiss is from Sydney and has five full-time staff and several part-time staff working across his two recruiting businesses, Soulidify and Career365. Some staff are based overseas.

A self-described “modern baby boomer”, before the Covid-19 pandemic and therefore well ahead of the trend, Mr Weiss adopted working from home policies for his staff, according to The Australian Financial Review.

Staff can work from the comfort of their own home permanently, as this keeps his overhead costs down because he only rents out a small office space.

But it comes with a major caveat.

If his workers’ productivity drops, Mr Weiss will monitor their screens.

He has also implemented other measures to keep employees on their toes, such as scheduling regular meetings and making them write up daily reports to show how productive they’ve been.

Mr Weiss said he made this clear to staff if they chose to work from home.

He says the micromanager style weeds out workers who aren’t the right fit.

“I go into the office two or three days a week, for my own sanity, but I’m a firm believer in remote work, as long as there’s accountability,” he told the AFR.

It comes as Australians were rocked last year from the news that a company had sacked one of their employees after monitoring her and concluding she had “very low keystroke activity”.

Suzie Cheikho, 38, a former consultant at Insurance Australia Group (IAG), found herself in a media storm last year after the Fair Work Commission deemed that it was fair enough for her to get the sack, as she wasn’t doing her job properly.

Ms Cheikho was sacked in February 2023 for missing deadlines and meetings, being absent and uncontactable, and failing to complete a task.

She had received a formal warning in November 2022 about her output and was put on a performance improvement plan. Ms Cheikho was subject to a detailed review of cyber activity, which analysed the number of times she physically pressed her keyboard on 49 working days from October to December.

The Commission heard the review found she had “very low keystroke activity”, averaging 54 strokes per hour over the duration of her surveillance, which showed “she was not presenting for work and performing work as required”.

Ms Cheikho, who told her employer she did “not believe for a minute” the data was true, took her case to the Fair Work Commission (FWC). The tribunal this week sided with IAG, finding she was fired for a “valid reason of misconduct”.

The Fair Work Commission is currently investigating whether working-from-home rights should be incorporated into industrial awards.

About 2.2 million workers on award wages could be impacted by the findings of the review, which will make recommendations to the federal government.

Workplace Minister Tony Burke said there were plenty of examples where working from home brought “mutual benefit” to both workers and employers and urged businesses to be open to discussions.

“It makes sense that the Fair Work Commission is saying okay, let’s check and work through submissions and see how that fits through the awards system,” he said.

Quizzed about the possibility of new working from home laws, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said remote working was a very positive development to come out of Covid-19 particularly for working mothers – but warned against workplaces using a “one size fits all” approach.

“I think that it is important, from at least time to time that people gather in one place so they can have that social interaction,” he said.

Opposition Leader Peter Dutton said while he supported flexibility for workers, he held concerns about the impact decreased productivity would have on the economy.

— With Frank Chung and NCA Newswire