Teleworking in Australia: Latest Trends and Perceptions

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Teleworking and telecommuting are concepts (and terms) that have been around since the early 1970’s, but have become a recent reality for many as technology and work culture are shifting.  By 2020, through the completion of the National Broadband Network, the government aims to provide greater opportunities for Australians to work remotely, with the aim for 12 percent of all public servants to regularly telecommute.

A recent McCrindle Research survey of over 580 Australians shows that Australians are eager to make significant changes to their working styles, embracing the freedom to work from home or remote of their primary location of work.

Most would stay longer if offered teleworking

80% of those surveyed stated that they would more likely stay longer with an existing employer should that employer provide them with the flexibility of working remotely or from home. Women expressed this in a greater capacity than men, with 82% of women agreeing this to be true for them, compared to 78% of men. The desire for flexible working arrangements was greatest among full-time workers, 86% of whom expressed the potential for increased longevity in their current role should teleworking be made available to them.

Most would take a pay cut for teleworking

Most employees (52% of men and 51% of women) are prepared to forego a percentage of their pay in exchange for greater flexibility in their working arrangements. While a lesser percentage of Baby Boomers showed such a capacity to forego pay, still almost half (46%) of them would be prepared to put a price on flexibility.

28% of Australians would be willing to earn 5% less for significant flexibility, and 14% of Australians would be willing to earn around 10% less to telework. 1 in 16 Australians would even be willing to compromise 20% of their pay – an entire day’s pay on a full-time load – in exchange for the opportunity to work remotely or from home.

Most are more productive working from home

55% of Australians reported being slightly or significantly more productive working from home than in an office environment. Productivity from home increases with age: While only 45% of Gen Ys report being more productive from home, this number rises to 52% for Gen Xs and 61% for the Baby Boomers. The Builder generation, those 68 and older, report the greatest personal productivity in a home-working environment, with 73% of them reporting greater personal productivity.

Australians spend most of their time working in one location

46% of Australians currently spend all of their working time in their primary location of work. 31% spend anywhere up to 20% of their time working from a remote location, 13% spend between 20 and 80% working remotely, and 10% of Australians work remotely more than 80% of their working time.

1 in 5 Australians work in 3 or more locations

While employers have shown a greater degree of flexibility for telecommuting than in the past, 54% of Australians still work from one central office location. However, 25% of Australians have a second location from which they conduct at least one hour’s work every week, 12% of Australians have 3 or 4 locations that they are based from, and 10% of Aussie workers work across 5 or more locations every single week.

Most want to do some work from home

When given the choice, 78% Aussies expressed a desire to spend at least a certain amount of their time working from home. Of these, 36% expressed a desire to work mainly in the workplace but partly at home, 24% desired to work half their working time in both places, and 40% expressed that they would like to work mainly at home and partly at home.

81% of those employed on a part-time basis showed a desire to work at home at some capacity, compared to only 70% of those who are employed full-time.

More popular and productive for introverts

The benefit of teleworking for introverts is greater than for extroverts. Introverts are 30% more productive working from home than extroverts. If given the choice, over a third of introverts (34%) would choose to work mainly at home and only partly in the workplace, whereas only 1 in 5 extroverts (22%) would choose the same. Conversely, extroverts are 32% more likely than introverts to want to work mainly in the workplace and only partly at home.

But gathering centrally is still essential

In terms of culture and output, the majority of Australians value the group collective, stating that in order to promote the best team outcomes, times for gathering and brainstorming as well as the capacity to work with varying degrees of flexibility is key. Only 18% of Australians feel that collective productivity is greatest when everyone is working in one place with no teleworking options. Over two thirds of Aussies (68%) stated that the culture and output of a workplace is best when everyone is working in one place with a degree of flexibility for teleworking, or when there is a time for gathering and working together but also a significant time for working remotely. Only 1 in 10 Australians would say that productivity is best when workers largely work independently with occasional gathering, and very few Australians (4%) report seeing no need for workers to gather in order to achieve maximum output or develop cultural cohesion.

About this Study: This research was conducted by McCrindle Research in May 2013 based on a nationwide study of 586 respondents.

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