Fewer than one in 10 public servants continue to work exclusively from home following comments made by Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Friday urging government workers back to the office, figures reveal.
The number of public servants working from home has continued to decline since the beginning of 2021, data given to The Canberra Times by the Australian Public Service Commission shows.
The latest figures, from early May, reveal about 8 per cent of the APS is working from home exclusively, with 92 per cent working exclusively from the office or a blended week with some days working remotely.
It marks a 5 percentage point drop from February's numbers, which recorded 13 per cent of public servants were continuing work from home arrangements.
In Canberra, the number of staff working remotely remained higher than the national average but also declined.
Snapshot data from the agency showing the number of employees working remotely on a particular day indicated around one in five federal public servants based in Canberra offices had flexible arrangements.
The public service commission had recorded a peak of around 64 per cent of federal public servants working remotely in August 2020 before a circular was issued the following month instructing workers to begin returning to the office.
Community and Public Sector Union national secretary Melissa Donnelly said the pandemic showed working from home was a success and there was no reason for a rushed return to pre-Covid arrangements.
"There is no doubt that the public sector has delivered for our community during the pandemic, more than that, it has shown that working from home more than works - it has been able to deliver in stressful times," Ms Donnelly said.
A study last year by UNSW Canberra and Central Queensland University had found the public sector was more autonomous and productive as a result of working from home during the pandemic, she added.
"The CPSU is working with members and agencies to encourage practical WFH policies, such as hybrid WFH days," Ms Donnelly said.
"We are seeing some agencies like the ATO set the standard, while others such as DSS are falling back into its recalcitrant ways, unable to learn the lessons of the pandemic.
"If the APS follows Mr Morrison's advice, they will fall behind the private sector and lose a real opportunity to innovate a modern work place."
Mr Morrison said the era of working from home for government workers was over after speaking to city mayors from around the country on Friday.
It was time to return to offices around the nation in a bid to help revitalise city economies, he said.
"I have a very simple message and it is time to get back to the office," Mr Morrison said on Friday.
"And here, in the ACT in particular, and for Commonwealth employees, we've been saying that for some time as other states have in other jurisdictions."
The Prime Minister also took aim at international companies who had embraced more flexible working arrangements during the pandemic, calling on them to push workers back to central offices.
"The challenge is that we've got many corporates ... who are using US, or European, or UK rules regarding people's presence in the office," Mr Morrison said.
"They're not appropriate to Australia, they should be indigenised to Australia, and we've been encouraging them to standardise their working arrangements to be consistent with what's happening here in Australia and not overseas."
Territory public servants will continue to be offered flexible working arrangements. ACT Chief Minister Andrew Barr confirmed on Friday it had led to productivity increases within the sector.
"As an employer ourselves, we are encouraging flexibility and we will continue to do so," he said.
"People are doing a lot, a lot of work for ACT government, and whether they're doing that in an office building some days and working from home on others, what we have witnessed is actually productivity increasing across the public sector in the ACT."
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