Public sector workers who live in the Illawarra should be able to keep working in Wollongong when the COVID-19 pandemic is over, according to state Labor politicians.
Wollongong MP Paul Scully said the NSW Government should make it a priority for non-frontline public sector workers to continue to work from Wollongong while coronavirus restrictions are relaxed, and after they have been lifted.
"The COVID-19 pandemic crisis warrants a re-think of how we work," he said.
"Many commuters who have joined the daily grinding commute to Sydney every day prior to the COVID-19 restrictions have told me they wish they'd be able to work locally more often."
As the biggest employer in the state, Mr Scully said the government should be leading the way, to encourage private sector employees to do the same.
As part of a "Work from Wollongong" strategy, Labor said the government should look into converting space at the Wollongong State Office Block, or leasing another location, to enable public sector workers to work locally for part of the week.
"While some may continue to work from home, others may wish to instead work from other centralised office facilities in a city location," Mr Scully said. "The point I'm making to the Government is that city location doesn't necessarily need to be in Sydney CBD - it can be in the Wollongong CBD."
He said this would benefit commuters and also provide an economic boost for Wollongong restaurants and retailers when it is most needed.
Labor's Industrial Relations spokesman Adam Searle has backed the plan, saying the government "should take any steps available to provide alternatives to people undertaking long commutes, once more normal working arrangements return".
"Giving workers back as much personal and family time as possible should be a key objective," he said.
Asked if the government would commit a dedicated working space for Wollongong public sector workers who normally commute to Sydney, the Premier's department did not answer.
However, a spokeswoman said flexible working arrangements were the norm for many employees.
"Many NSW Government agencies have well-established flexible work practices and technology that enable staff to work flexibly, including from home, with no interruption to meeting core business needs...," the spokeswoman said. "Many employees had these in place before the COVID outbreak, and they will continue to be encouraged to make flexible working arrangements that suit them and their family, and that support their health and wellbeing, as COVID-19 restrictions ease."
"Careful planning is also underway to help public sector employees return to the workplace in a staged, safe and sustainable way.
"This will happen slowly over several months later this year, and will only occur in line with legal orders, Health advice and the NSW Government response to COVID-19."