Don’t pack up your home office just yet: Remote working likely to stay


The shift to working from home caused by the pandemic is one of the biggest changes to the way we work in the last 50 years. But don’t get ready to pack up your home office just yet. According to the federal government’s key economic advisor, remote working is here to stay long after the COVID-19 pandemic.


A report by the Productivity Commission has found that on balance, working from home can unlock significant gains in terms of flexibility and time for employees and could even increase the nation’s productivity, and suggests we should not stand in the way of this evolution.

The pandemic created a ‘forced experiment’ where suddenly working from home has become much more common, accepted and expected by employees and employers.

“In less than two years we have gone from less than 8 per cent of Australians working from home to 40 per cent. While this percentage may not always remain so high it is inevitable that more Australians will work from home,” Chair of the Productivity Commission Michael Brennan said.

“Risks can be managed but we should keep an eye on them and be ready to intervene if necessary,” Chair Michael Brennan said.

He said the next wave of experimentation will see employees and employers choosing to implement work from home models that work for both parties.

“Working from home won’t suit everyone or every business but for many employees working from home arrangements will be a factor in deciding which job to take.

“Some employees have even indicated they would be prepared to take less pay in return for the ability to work from home,” Mr Brennan said.

The Commission’s report says that at this stage governments should support the work from home transition and don’t need to take any immediate direct action.

“There is a long history of technology enabling different ways of working. The forced experiment of COVID-19 has greatly accelerated take up of technology including that which assists working from home opportunities,” Michael Brennan said.

Need for human contact

In a recent survey, Women on Boards found that while respondents welcomed the increased flexibility, being able to focus away from busy workspaces and not having to commute while working remotely, there was still a clear preference for professional human contact.

In August Women on Boards undertook a two-day Impact of Lockdown snap survey of 342 members and wider network to better understand the impact that lockdown was having on how they are coping with their boardroom and leadership responsibilities.

More than three-quarters (79%) said they disliked not being able to meet face-to-face, just over two-thirds (68%) said they have Zoom fatigue and 63% felt professionally isolated.

On the plus side, comments from respondents suggested that meetings are shorter, relationships between executives and board members have deepened and hybrid working could enable better diversity on boards.

Download the Productivity Commission Working from Home report HERE

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