Having a great work-life balance is the number one priority for workers ahead of a comfortable salary, according to a recent Asia Pacific Workforce Preferences Barometer released by commercial real estate firm, JLL Australia.

However, fatigue from working at home is growing and employees are craving social interaction with eight in 10 wanting to work in the office at least once a week, the research has shown, with an ideal working week of three days in the office and two days remote.

With these report findings in mind, Appliance Retailer reached out to several major appliance brands to find out how they will approach the workplace in 2022 and beyond.

Electrolux aspires to create work life blends that give people the flexibility to manage their family, personal and professional lives, according to managing director for Australia and New Zealand, Kurt Hegvold.

“We’ve had positive feedback from our employees regarding the wellbeing benefits of being truly flexible with our working arrangements, so we’ve had no hesitation in continuing this across our business globally,” he told Appliance Retailer.

“We recognise too that flexibility isn’t only limited to time in the office, it’s about other factors such as flexible work locations and compressed Friday hours, for example, that provide opportunities to strike the right balance.

“The strength of our business is our wonderful culture, so being able to provide genuine flexibility while maintaining chances for people to connect is paramount. We see a reasonable split of time between different locations as being essential to achieving this outcome, so we’ve come up with a guideline that we think fairly represents most people and how they will work.

“We are also mindful that we will need to continue to be agile as our valued employees needs evolve and our working environment continues to be shaped by the world around us. In addition, we’ll also continue to support our teams to come together to celebrate achievements and milestones, but most importantly to see other each other. That’s something we’re excited about,” Hegvold said.

Miele plans to continue its ‘smart working’ approach with three days in the office and two days at home, in addition to some flexibility during work hours.

“Smart working is centred on the individual and has a goal of the correct work/life balance. It does not cancel the office but substantially changes its function, meaning and use, to increase productivity and improve quality of life by giving back time,” Miele marketing director, Michele Laghezza told Appliance Retailer.

“It is very different to ‘hybrid working’ which puts technology at the centre and pushes us towards remote working, expanding work times in an unsustainable way while mixing spaces and levels. We need to abandon the rhetoric if “busy bragging” and regain possession of our spaces and above all, our time.”

Fisher & Paykel is also a strong advocate for hybrid working and the company embraced this model long before the pandemic.

“Our people are well versed in remote working, with the right resources, practices and mental models embedded in our business,” Fisher & Paykel chief operating officer, Jeremy Sargeant told Appliance Retailer.

“Our Rendanheyi model focuses on autonomy of the individual and the business unit, while creating strength through collaboration across roles and functions. This has only strengthened since the beginning of Covid, as teams become more aware of how to best utilise the time they spend in the office for the right kinds of tasks and interactions.

“Overall, the hybrid working model has been a real strength for Fisher & Paykel, and one we believe contributes to the efficiency of our people and our business,” he said.

BSH said it will adopt a mobile work policy in 2022, where office-based employees have the option of spending 40% of their working time away from their normal place of work.

Shriro staff can continue working from home at this stage but will return to hybrid work arrangements in January 2022.

“We are moving back to three days in the office and two days at home for head office employees, although warehouse employees across NSW, VIC and WA will work a five-day week on site,” Shriro head of marketing, James Cocking told Appliance Retailer.

“Covid-19 has shown us that a hybrid working model is the new normal and allows people to connect in the office, as well as have dedicated days at home to suit their lifestyle. It is also critical to offer this for new employees so they can build those critical connections in their first few weeks before they transition to the hybrid model.

“We’ve also rolled out monthly town halls for CEO updates, providing an open forum for all Shriro employees to ask questions straight to the top,” he said.

Smeg staff in Sydney and Melbourne have largely returned to the office, following government advice.

“Our showrooms reopened by appointment this week and while we’ll continue contactless deliveries, our spare parts and warehouse are also open for pickups,” Smeg Australia managing director, Wayne Campbell told Appliance Retailer.

“We’ll continue to monitor the situation and, if necessary, reassess in order to protect the health and safety of our staff and customers. We are looking forward to a very positive 2022.”

Asko will review its working arrangements for 2022 early in the New Year, led by direction from the state government to ensure a safe and healthy workplace.

“Between now and end of the year, Asko head office-based employees have the option to work from home or the office. Some staff may be requested to work from the office due to requirements to be on site, for example warehouse, IT and systems staff,” Asko national sales manager, Rob Butchatsky told Appliance Retailer.

At Eurolinx, it is all hands-on deck and a return to business as usual with staff back in the office five days a week.

“During lockdown, we took the time to completely renovate our workspaces to be more ‘Covid’ friendly and improve general efficiency within workstations and location of staff workspaces. All staff now also have electronic stand-up desks so they can adjust their own working environment throughout the day and increase their personal comfort level,” Eurolinx marketing director, Daniel Bertuccio told Appliance Retailer.

LG Electronics employees in Australia and New Zealand are now planning to return to their workplaces across the region.

“LG will be assisting employees in transitioning back into our offices, as well as utilising flexible work options where possible from the beginning of 2022,” an LG Electronics spokesperson told Appliance Retailer.

“The shift in workplace arrangements reflects LG’s commitment as an employer of choice, and the changing needs of our staff. It reflects the adoption of the growth mindset which makes LG such a great place to work.

“LG thanks its employees and partners for their efforts during the past 12 months. Even amid the workplace disruption and uncertainty of the pandemic, the efforts of our employees meant many of our businesses delivered extremely strong results this year.”