Free lunches, kombucha on tap and weekly tennis lessons are some of the tactics being adopted by Australian tech companies in an effort to lure workers back to the office.

After the COVID-19 pandemic saw the bulk of Australia’s tech workforce conducting their jobs remotely from home, there has been ongoing debate over whether this will continue in the long-term, leading to a balancing act between the wants of employees versus the needs of businesses.

Many employers are of the belief that workers are more productive and efficient if they attend the office at least a couple of days per week, and some of the biggest tech companies in the world have now reintroduced mandates.

But employees are increasingly citing flexibility and remote working as a key requirement in their job, saying they are willing to find a new job if this is taken away from them.

A number of Australian tech companies are taking novel approaches to enticing people to return to the office, offering benefits far beyond what was seen before the pandemic, as the ABC reported.

More annual leave

According to the report, Australian fintech firm Stake has managed to lure more than half of its 73 Sydney-based employees back to the office through offering up to seven additional annual leave days to those who attend in person.

“We are trying to recreate the office environment that we used to love before COVID, but also giving people the time back to spend doing what they love,” Stake global head of people Aline Van Koninckxloo told the ABC.

Australian-based cryptocurrency exchange Swyftx is taking even more novel approaches to attracting its tech workers to the office, including by offering an in-house barista, free catered lunches, kombucha on tap, free weekly tennis lessons and a virtual golf course.

This is all to attract its workers back to the office at least two days per week.

“We have a lot of introverts, especially software engineers,” Swyftx talent acquisition manager Danielle Arrebola told the ABC.

“They are the type of people that love working from home. They love routine and creature comforts – so investing in state-of-the-art office chairs and having perks like catered lunches helps bring people back into the office.”

These Aussie tech companies are joining some of the biggest tech companies in the world in attempting to bring their workers back into the office.

The likes of Google, Amazon, Meta and Apple have all mandated that workers must attend an office in-person at least three days per week, while the Elon Musk-owned X now requires employees to be in the office every day.

Aussie stand-out

One of the outliers continuing to embrace remote work fully is Aussie tech darling Atlassian. Through its Team Atlassian approach to distributed working, Atlassian employees can choose to work wherever they want every day, with no mandated days in the office.

The company has allowed this since 2020, and reaffirmed the approach earlier this year at a time when many large tech companies were doing the opposite.

Instead of its 12 offices around the world, Atlassian workers are now in more than 10,000 locations.

This is saving its employees 10 days per year in commuting time, with 92 per cent of these workers saying it allows them to do their best work and more than 90 per cent saying it’s an important reason why they remain with the company, according to Atlassian’s own research.

While there are no mandates, more than 80 per cent of Atlassian employees attended an office at least once per quarter in the last year.

Research has found that the younger an employee is, the more likely they are to list flexibility as a key consideration when it comes to switching jobs.

Separate research also found that employee loyalty is now increasingly linked to flexibility, while people skills are even more important for those working remotely.