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Major chief executives including Telstra’s Andy Penn have expressed confidence they can manage the challenges of remote workforces as the coronavirus pandemic forces businesses to permanently change the way they operate.

Mr Penn said the last 12 months had proved to him that people didn’t have to be working in an office together. “We are in a new era of hybrid work. Where someone lives should no longer be a limitation to the work they undertake,” he said.

Bridget Loudon, chief executive and co-founder of online employment marketplace Expert360, said COVID had overnight accelerated every underlying macro trend about the future of work. “All bets are off in terms of how companies find, manage and engage talent,” she said. “How to manage a remote workforce is one aspect of it but actually business leaders and chief human resources officers need to completely rethink the way that they source manage and engage.”

Ms Loudon said Expert360 has moved to “flex first” and anticipated about 40 per cent of the company’s workforce would be in a physical office environment on any given day.

“Most companies now have a burning platform [need to make radical change] really in a way that they haven’t before,” she said.

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