Open Plan + COVID 19= A Dangerous Plan


The Doctors Union has campaigned hard on the issue of appropriate office accommodation for staff specialists.

We have argued that open plan workspaces, or activity-based working will have adverse consequences for productivity, confidentiality, privacy, health and job satisfaction.

Now the pioneer of so- called activity based working in Australia, James Calder, has said that COVID-19 is the “…end of activity-based work as we know it” and that “Until we have a vaccine, I can't see how ABW settings in their full capacity mode can actually be used. They're just like land-based cruise ships.”

We hope that hot-desking and open plan offices will become a thing of the past as the risks of spreading COVID-19 from shared desks and breakout spaces are too great for any employer to inflict on their staff.

Last year we had a small but important victory in our 18-month dispute with NSW Health on this issue.

The NSW IRC confirmed that staff specialists are entitled to access reasonable office support which allows the staff specialist to undertake the duties of their role. This may include traditional, enclosed offices on a dedicated, exclusive or shared basis, or a dedicated, exclusive or shared workstation.

The effect of the Commission’s decision was to discredit the one-size fits all approach that had been taken by NSW Health.

Will NSW Health realise that hot desking should be a thing of the past?

Will they accept that the risk of spreading coronavirus through communal desks and breakout spaces is too great for employers to inflict on staff?

Our third virtual mass meeting will be on the topic of open plan workspaces and COVID 19. We will send details of the meeting closer to the date.

And remember if you have any issues concerning office accommodation please contact the Union at allocation