Will Aussie workplace change permanently?

The younger the employee, the less courage they have to ask their employer to make permanent working from home arrangements

Many people have discovered just how much work they can achieve while working at home – especially if they have the right digital resources, according to Jeff Downs, CEO and Founder at Redback Connect.

If employers listen to their employees, we may see a decentralisation of the workforce from the cities to the suburbs, he added.

Downs’ comments come as a survey of people who have been working from home during the pandemic has found that 86% want to continue doing so, at least part-time – even once their workplaces resume ‘normal’ operations.

Moreover, 73% believe their employers would be open to it, and 22% have already been offered a work-from-home option.

The results are from an independent survey of a nationally representative panel of 1000 Australian employees who have been working from home – full-time or part-time – during the pandemic, commissioned by Redback Connect.

The results also found that after social restrictions lift, 28% of respondents want to work from home full-time and permanently, 39% want to work from home one-to-two days a week, and 20% want to work from home three-to-four days a week.

Almost three-quarters (73%) of respondents believe their employer would be open to them working from home – backed by the findings that 22% say their manager has already offered such an option, while 56% say they will ask their managers to arrange it.

Just 14% are too afraid to ask their managers to allow them to work from home, and 8% have had their work-from-home request rejected by their employer.

The younger the employee, the less courage they have to ask their employer to make permanent working from home arrangements.

Almost a quarter (24%) of respondents aged 18 to 30 admit they are too afraid to ask their manager to make such arrangements, compared with 14% of 31-50s and just 6% of over-51s.

It also seems younger employees are less likely to have been offered a permanent working-from-home arrangement, or, if they have asked for one, it has been declined.

Just 15% of respondents aged 18 to 30 have already been offered a work-from-home option, compared with 21% of employees aged 31-50, and 30% of employees older than 51.

However, the last couple of months of home-based working has also shed light on what digital and virtual meeting tools are needed to increase productivity.

In fact, 50% of respondents say working from home would not result in a fall in productivity, if they had the right digital tools.

A third (33%) of respondents say that, with the right technology, their organisation would actually increase its productivity.

When asked about what digital capabilities can help maximise at-home productivity, 55% of respondents say tools that enable them to have virtual meetings or webinars with multiple attendees.

The same proportion (55%) say tools that allow them to share and edit documents, projects, or work schedules with team members in real-time.

Nearly half (46%) of respondents believe they need to able to see the ‘availability’ of other team members remotely, while 45% say they want the ability to share work-in-progress schedules and status reports with other team members.

Forty-two per cent said they need to present work to stakeholders in the same way as in an in-person meeting.

Downs added that after the pandemic, Aussie workers want workplaces to change permanently.

“While simple video and teleconference communications have been used being widely by many organisations during the shutdown, if working from home becomes permanent, organisations will need to onboard a suite of remote-working digital tools to replicate, as far as possible, the ‘in-office’ experience,” he said.

“Our research reveals that more purpose-specific virtual technologies that offer a broader range of secure, interactive platform features – such as online polling and live Q&As – would help maximise the productivity of at-home offices.”

/Public Release. View in full here.