Tuesday, October 26, 2021

Work-from-home ‘forced experiment’ could boost productivity

A new Australian Productivity Commission report suggests a shift to working from home caused by the COVID pandemic could unlock significant gains for employees and their productivity levels.

The report released this week states that in less than two years, Australia had gone from less than 8% of employees working from home, to 40%.

“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 (pictured) said.

The Working from home report investigates how the move to working from home may impact Australia’s economy generally and individuals’ income, employment opportunities and health and wellbeing.

“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,” Mr Brennan said.

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

The report says all indications currently suggest we should not stand in the way of this evolution.

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

“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 not 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,” Mr Brennan said.

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