TWO central Warrnambool financial businesses say a return of up to 50 per cent of office workers from Monday could benefit the city.
But the two smaller firms say they already have many staff back at desks to meet the face-to-face needs of their clients.
The state government from Monday has withdrawn a direction for all people to work from home if they can, now allowing up to 50 per cent of private sector workers to return to offices.
Silvan Ridge principal Steve Harris said many of the firm's 20 staff had returned to the office late last year under strict conditions.
"We never have 20 people in at once, there's various days and hours," he said.
"Everyone who comes in is temperature checked, masks have been compulsory all the time."
He said staff returned because "most clients have a preference to see us face-to-face".
Mr Harris said the business also allowed anyone to work from home if they preferred, adding a return to offices was important for the city's CBD.
"Having people back in the CBD area means they are supporting local coffee shops, food venues, which have struggled through COVID," Mr Harris said.
SHB Business and Wealth partner Barry Brooks also said a return to offices could be an added benefit for cafes and restaurants.
"I think it will be good but we won't know the full affect of the return to offices on the CBD until after the holiday season," he said.
Mr Brooks said the 30 person office had about 80 per cent of people returning to their desks towards the end of last year.
"We have always been flexible. But our office space is of a size, and our COVID plan is in place, that really there should be no discomfort working from the office from a COVID point of view," he said.
Mr Brooks said workers had mixed views on whether working from home was beneficial.
"A lot of the staff were keen to return just for the interaction with others. It is debatable about whether it was more or less efficient. Some were more efficient at home, others weren't," he said.
Koroit Street's Daily Grain owner Glenn Scott said while the holiday season had been busy for the cafe, workers returning to offices could be "the boost just to keep it all flowing".
"We don't know if that is going to be a large trade or a little bit extra on top. We have offices above us, which have up to 60 workers in it that haven't been there for quite a while now."
A quarter of public sector workers can return to offices on Monday, but a Warrnambool City Council spokesman said "we aren't anticipating a change to our current staffing arrangements".
Warrnambool mayor Vicki Jellie said individuals would need to have discussions with their employers about what was best for them, their business and COVIDSafe.
"It would be lovely to get the city back to what we were post COVID, but we must do it carefully," Cr Jellie said.
"A lot of people have worked at home and it has suited them. Other people might want to get back because they miss that interaction a business or factory might have.
"I encourage people to try and get back to what's normal now whatever that may be for that business."
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