Telstra News |

The future of the workplace post-COVID-19 – the new normal isn’t coming, it’s here now

By Andrew Penn August 31, 2020

It is business, but it’s far from usual. COVID-19 has transformed our ideas about how and where we work and put flexibility, adaptability and technology at the heart of the workplace. The way we work and how successful businesses in the future will be defined has changed forever – here are three thoughts on how.

Firstly, there is no “normal” when it comes to the workplace, what matters is maximum flexibility.

We’re all different. Some people are more introverted, some are more extroverted. We all have different personal circumstances and the organisations that will be successful in attracting and retaining talent will be those that can offer their employees maximum flexibility. In developing our thinking around flexible working Telstra is developing six personas based broadly around our people’s different role types, their technology needs, communication preferences along with individual considerations, challenges and expectations. This is about identifying the right solution for each person in our workplace, not a one size fits all, so our people can choose to work in a way that best suits them. Managing across personas increases complexity and adds more challenge to how leaders must manage but when you get it right, the payoff is so much higher.

Second, the humanity of our people will re-shape our culture.

Workplace culture has changed enormously during COVID and all for the better. The usual shields of business – the clothes, the offices, the hierarchies that we sometimes hide behind – have been stripped away and we have all got a better glimpse into each other’s real lives. It has certainly been a great equaliser as we all get to see each other’s partners, kids, pets and homes. The connections are real, the links genuine. The businesses that will be successful in the future will embrace their humanity and make it the foundation of their culture.

And third, our technology, tools and property plans need to supercharge our ability to do our best work.

Operationalising the workplace of the future means drawing together the threads of flexibility, adaptability and technology. It is a cross-functional, cross-company task and Telstra’s leaders from property, networks, IT and HR are considering our infrastructure, technology, tool and skills requirements through the lens of our employees’ experience, needs and expectations. The businesses that will be successful in the future will be able to think through flexible working in all its dimensions, and bring it to life through technology.

A new normal

Not long ago the biggest catalyst for workplace change was advances in digital technologies and connectivity. Many were alarmed jobs would be replaced by artificial intelligence, automation or robots. Those things have not gone away but COVID-19 has taken the future of work in a totally new direction, a direction that is increasingly virtual and remote rather than physical and centralised, a direction where a 9-to-5, Monday-to-Friday workday (physically at the office, for many of us) is suddenly hard to imagine.

The “new normal” for work will be flexible, geographically dispersed, and offer a choice of a hybrid of digital and physical tools and spaces that are tailored to your role and your technology needs, preferences and expectations. Work will be something you do, not somewhere you go.

At Telstra, this concept of flexibility will include our office-based staff but also extend to the many thousands of Telstra people who work in stores, install or repair connections at homes or businesses, take E000 calls or provide other critical services at secure facilities.

When COVID first hit, we moved our 25,000 Australian-based office employees to work-from-home to get ahead of things. We did that in a single weekend, more or less without a hitch. That was nearly six months ago and most – myself included – have not been in the office since.

Video meetings are now standard at Telstra. In July, as just one example, we ran more than 8 million Microsoft Teams calls. Management meetings, Board meetings, team meetings are now virtual including this year’s Annual General Meeting – a first in our 160 year history.

It is hard to imagine a bigger disruption to traditional work practices and yet the appetite for this type of flexibility is extraordinary. A recent employee survey showed more than 60% of our people believe they are more productive working from home and, on average, they would prefer to work from home around 3 days per week, compared to an average of 1.7 days prior to COVID.

We introduced All Roles Flex in 2014 but it has taken this pandemic to fundamentally shift us from a workforce that sees home working as a nice-to-do to a permanent fixture in the work-life juggle.

The top reasons our people cite for embracing this change are no commute time, greater flexibility on working hours and more time for exercise and family. There are still challenges (issues like mental health and domestic violence are very real) and we recognise that some people will want to return to the office as soon as they can while others do not have the choice such as those serving customers in-store.

Before COVID we trialled an agent@home model for Australian-based sales and service consultants from our call centres. Now all consultants can potentially work from home, shifting the conventional thinking on customer service roles.

There is no way to know exactly what the world will look like a year from now so we must accept this is our new normal and prepare for it.

Humanity in all its colour

If work is like the blood that flows through our veins then technology and collaboration tools are the connective tissue. However, as vital as they are it is the purpose, values and culture of a company that defines who we are. Through COVID this has been enriched by the humanity which we are now seeing on high-beam.

In two weeks’ time it will be six months since I set foot in the office. I certainly miss all those informal interactions – the opportunities to bump into people in the coffee shop or the side conversation before or after a meeting. Their absence cannot be replaced by technology alone. We all have our own small rituals and COVID has enabled us to better understand their bigger role in our psyche. In uncertain times, rituals give us comfort and confidence.

Working from home has truly broken down hierarchies in a way we could never have imagined previously. Teleconferencing means we are bringing people into our homes every day and they are seeing us in a way they never have before – with all of our issues, challenges and vulnerabilities.

In our efforts to keep connected, we are also asking each other how we are in meetings – and actually stopping and listening to the answer. The simple question “How are you” during a health pandemic is no longer a polite refrain but a symbol central to connecting us and looking out for each other.

From these simple acts of humanity, mental health, safety and wellbeing are now a foremost concern in how we manage our workplace and evolve our culture. Providing a safe work environment has always been fundamental but the increased focus on mental health is rightly pervading our outlook and is a key component of our new normal.

We need to be part of a tribe, to feel connected to each other and something bigger, with a purpose. The opening of the window into our humanity during COVID only enriches this.

Supercharging our best work with technology

Telecommunications networks and digital technology have been critical during the lockdown period, and the acceleration of the digital economy is now not only crucial to a fast economic recovery but is supercharging our people’s ability to do their best work.

The basics are obvious: what are the connectivity, applications and tool requirements – in the office, at home and on the move, for voice, for video and online collaboration?

Others are more complex and can involve anything from identity management to cyber security and our property portfolios. These are all important considerations with critical consequences if not managed well.

Like other large organisations, we operate large office buildings in CBDs around the country, many of which are now either largely empty or much-reconfigured to accommodate social distancing measures.

Our employees have told us they no longer want to be there Monday to Friday, that they see themselves coming in around two days a week to collaborate, see customers, socialise and build relationships with colleagues and to learn. There are many ideas around how this might work, from modifying existing facilities to cater for collaboration to a “hub and spoke model” that puts more office facilities closer to where employees live, including in suburban or regional areas rather than centralised in the CBD.

But in the new normal, more deeply understanding our people means we can enable them with technology, connectivity and physical space options to do their best work where and how it suits them.

This is the new normal

I have been in the workforce for more than 40 years and I have seen how work and the workplace has evolved. I have seen how roles change, how some have disappeared and how new technologies have brought forward new thinking around productivity, flexibility and engagement. I have also seen many changes in the nature of what constitutes a successful company.

Even before COVID it would have been naive to think technology was not going to continue to drive changes in our lives and in our workplaces – the real issue then is how do we respond and how we prepare ourselves for the future.

What COVID is showing us is that we are at our best when our workplaces offer maximum flexibility, when they enable us to let our humanity into our culture and when they combine the power of technology and connectivity. When they do that we will create a workplace that not only survives the new normal but thrives.

Tech and Innovation |

Innovation and technology are the foundation of Australia’s new normal

By Kim Krogh Andersen August 24, 2020

There’s no doubt technology has helped Australians address the changes that COVID-19 has brought on. From working, learning, socialising, shopping, eating, being informed and entertained, technology has been the foundation as we attempt to continue with our lives as much as possible. COVID-19 has swiftly forced the uptake of digitisation and changed our behaviour forever.

As a nation, we have collectively invested time and resources into learning how technology can help improve our lives in 2020, and we expect it to continue to play a vital role in the years to come.

Looking forward, COVID-19 will change the way we live and work forever. Just like other times of significant change and disruption, we need to learn the lessons, adapt to a new norm, and come out of it stronger. We cannot miss this chance to ensure the pandemic becomes a catalyst for innovation and growth in order of a better future.

In the home this year, we relied heavily on a stable and fast internet connection to support our working-and-learning from home environments during the day, while depending on it for seamless video streaming and gaming in the evenings. Furthermore, Australians have increasingly realised the benefits of shopping for goods and services online. Even when COVID-19 passes, we expect our newly-formed habits to remain, having a better appreciation of a fast, strong, and reliable internet and Wi-Fi connection.

Outside of the home, innovation was also being developed and deployed to keep us safe when we leave the front door.

The Government encouraged Australians to download and use the COVIDSafe app in order to provide an easier way to automate contact tracing to reduce further infections.

Telstra’s Track and Monitor asset-tracking platform was used by a healthcare industry customer as they swiftly deployed COVID-19 triage clinics across the east coast of Australia. This helped ensure there were no misplaced expensive and in-demand equipment, especially during a time of constant change.

We also saw the fragility and our dependency on delivery and supply chain systems, exposing the lack of end-to-end visibility. As an example, we are working with major suppliers to accelerate the development of Telstra’s Connected Supply Chain product and are also negotiating with transport companies to help increase supply chain visibility with domestic deliveries.

Quick, transparent and interactive communication was also very important. Victoria’s Department of Health & Human Services needed technology to help ensure compliance to the mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for close contacts of COVID-19 and chose Whispir’s mass communication platform to perform this function with great success.

It is more imperative than ever to ensure the country does not encounter a second wave of nation-wide infections and the respective lockdown as a result. If it were to happen, the OECD has said the Australian economy could decline by 6.3 per cent this year, which would take us back to where it was in 2016.

The technology pioneered to help manage the pandemic will continue to help us live in the ‘new normal’.

Travellers passing through Canberra Airport may notice new Temperature Screening solutions at the security check-in. This allows the airport to increase its protection against COVID-19 and includes thermal cameras to detect travellers with high temperatures. The key goal is to help reassure passengers transiting through public spaces like airports. We may see more of this type of technology installed at other public spaces like train stations, shopping centres, and maybe even at some workplaces where thousands of people pass through daily.

Traditional offices will also evolve as a result of COVID-19. Employees will demand to be allowed to continue working from home after the forced experiment pressured companies to change their flexible-working mindset and accelerate the required digitisation. This also meant the need to evolve the cyber security, technology processes, and communication and collaboration tools to enable successful remote working. The pandemic has pushed CIOs and IT departments (no matter what size) to finally modernise various procedures and systems.

Telstra’s Smart Building product already measures people’s movement through infrared sensor data to deliver insights on desk usage, meeting room usage and general occupancy levels. The product is now being expanded to measure social distancing and hygiene compliance, and will be highly relevant to all industries, especially retail, transport, health, and commercial offices.

Elsewhere, video analytics will be deployed to assist critical industries with real-time thermal scanning to ensure the ongoing safety of staff and the public. AI will help deliver insights such as people flow and count, movement analysis, alerts, and more.

There is also set to be a widespread acceleration of automation (as robots can’t contract COVID-19) which has several drivers. One of the interesting opportunities I’ve seen is robots that can clean, disinfect, help detect fever symptoms, and monitor mask and social distancing compliance.

In the home, we’ll see faster internet enabling more advanced entertainment and educational technologies. I expect further innovation in television, gaming, smart home, and communication devices will be front and centre in consumer electronics R&D in the next 12-24 months.

I have no doubt these examples of technology and innovation will be scaled even further.

COVID-19 has reinforced how critical technology is for our daily lives, specifically dependable and fast connectivity. The swift need for network reliability and resiliency when we first moved to working from home, was an early indication of how vital connectivity will be in the future.

The world is slowly exploring ultra-reliable low latency use cases like autonomous driving, remote surgery, robotics, smart cities and smart homes. 5G, Edge Computing, IoT and AI are critical technologies for us to enable these advanced scenarios, but we can’t forget security, privacy, customer experience, and operational excellence are equally as important when we embark on this journey. Because it’s people that will give purpose to technology.

COVID-19 has meant new cultural and workforce transformation for the better. We strongly believe technology plays a central role in these shifting and accelerating trends and will be the foundation in what the new normal looks like for Australians – in the home, at the office, and anywhere in between.

Business and Enterprise | Small Business |

Why the digitisation of Small Business is now urgent – not just important

By Michael Ackland July 31, 2020

If COVID-19 taught us anything, it has been how to rapidly respond to change. With online spending skyrocketing in recent months, Australia’s small-to-medium businesses must respond to this change in customer behaviour in order to take advantage of the ‘new normal’.

The COVID inflection point for digitisation

Make no mistake: Australian businesses in all shapes and sizes are at an inflection point, with the data telling a truly remarkable story. Unemployment has risen rapidly, and 1 in 10 small to medium businesses are no longer trading due to COVID-19. Those that have survived are reporting serious concerns, with 80 per cent of small to medium businesses expecting adverse impacts to their operations in the next two months.

Small business owners have always told us that one of the biggest barriers to getting their operations online was the time required. Owner-operators are typically so invested in doing the day to day that they don’t have the time to digitise their business. But now that COVID-19 has driven legions of shoppers online, driving a digital strategy for small business is not just important – it’s urgent. Especially considering we’re seeing Australian consumers actively looking to support local businesses in their area.

New data from Venture Insights indicates that 70 per cent of Australian consumers now consciously support local businesses, but many indicate that they are hamstrung by a lack of online presence. Businesses that go digital also reap near-immediate rewards, with our research showing that boosted technology spending leads to revenue that is three times faster than those who don’t invest in technology.

There are clearly huge opportunities for small to medium businesses in Australia to go digital during this time.

Driving digitisation

To capture these post-COVID consumer dollars, businesses must seize the opportunity of e-commerce as much as possible because those that have adapted well have put technology right at the centre of their business.

Businesses that have managed to rapidly digitise during lockdown have told us that tech and telecom services are now more important than they had been in a pre-COVID world. Connected, always-on tech is now being used by small businesses to create new experiences for customers and new ways of doing business.

There’s no doubt that it’s going to continue to be hard for many to adapt. Previous barriers to adoption such as time pressure or complexity are still as relevant as ever, but the urgency has increased. Video, remote connectivity and e-commerce must now be the watchwords of the successful post-COVID SMB.

One such business adapting successfully is Kalleske Wines. Situated in South Australia’s Barossa Valley, Kalleske relied heavily on physical presence at its winery, restaurant and cellar door to do business. When COVID-19 hit, Kalleske had the radical idea to take the fundamental features of a winery and put it online, adapting and digitising its operation rapidly to stay open.

It started to offer mixed six- and 12-packs of wine with accompanying videos and downloadable resources for customers to learn more about the wine. Furthermore, it replaced its Cellar Door experience with Facebook Live sessions in conjunction with a local industry group to continue tour and information sessions. Private tastings were held via video conference, with customers being sent new 100mL sample sizes to try the wine during the session.

Kalleske has told us that they’ll almost certainly continue all of these initiatives in the future to ensure that customers who would rather not travel can still take advantage of what their business has to offer.

It’s not an easy road out of COVID-19, but with resilience and ingenuity, many SMBs will be able to adapt to changing consumer behaviour and provide more remote working opportunities for their employees. Ultimately though, there is no going back.

COVID-19 represents a fundamental opportunity to capture not only a new wave of online shoppers, but also for SMBs to digitise their operations.

As the backbone of the Australian economy it is now incumbent upon all of us to get behind small business and help them grow. However, moving past these challenges (toward a new normal) and moving back into growth requires time and support, which many SMBs don’t currently have.

So we have made some small but significant changes to help them thrive:

  • To give you peace of mind about staying connected to your business operations over the coming months, we’re providing unlimited data allowances on fixed broadband free of charge for our small business customers until 30 September.
  • We’re offering small business customers a $50 credit for 6 months when connecting a new fixed internet service on the $100 Business Internet Unlimited plan with a $25 Business Calling Pack, until 31 August. This is a great offer providing more value to our Business Internet Plans to help small business to thrive again.
  • We’re offering small businesses access to our new Digital Marketing Services website plans at half the regular cost, until 31 August. We’ll help you create or update your website and if needed, open an online store.
  • We’ll be on hand to assist you in creating business listings for Google My Business, Apple Maps and Facebook Business. For our existing customers, we will automatically apply 50 per cent off your Telstra Digital Marketing or Telstra Online Essentials website subscription charge.
  • If you’re missing any equipment to work from home, Telstra’s Mobile Worksuite gives you the data, software, devices and support you need to get you and your team working remotely smoothly.
  • We continue to monitor the situation closely while working closely with regulators and the government. Our absolute focus remains on team wellbeing, supporting our customers and playing our part in the national response.
  • Find out more details about how we’re supporting small businesses through COVID-19.
Cyber security monitoring operations control room
Network | Tech and Innovation |

How we’re bolstering our digital economy with stronger fixed and mobile connectivity

By Nikos Katinakis July 17, 2020

The past few months of social restrictions have shown just how important connectivity is to keep the nation moving. As we emerge into a brave new world, ensuring fast, resilient and available connectivity is vital for economic momentum. We’re now thinking differently about how and where technology supports Australia’s incredible digital economy.

Lockdown: tackling an unprecedented network event

Security Operations Centre

Connectivity will have an ever-increasing and key nation-building role in the COVID-19 recovery efforts, as we grasp the opportunities the new digital economy will bring.

COVID-19 represents not only an unprecedented public safety event, but an unprecedented network event.

Our fixed and mobile networks, which stretch to more corners of our country and cover more Australians than any other, are massive and complex. On a normal week, we manage the capacity of our networks through various measures to ensure the best connectivity and reliability for our millions of customers. We’ve been doing this for a long time, and we’re proud of how well we do it.

Our team is working hard during the pandemic to ensure our network stays resilient, fast and available for our fixed and mobile customers.

Through COVID-19, voice calls on our national network have increased by as much as 40 percent and the number of mobile network text messages sent has risen by 21 percent.

We normally see a 30 to 40 percent increase in data traffic on our fixed network year-on-year. While we have seen daytime peak traffic on our fixed network increase by as much as 70 percent when compared with pre-COVID traffic, this increase is easily carried.

This increase – mainly in our uplink traffic – can be attributed largely to an increase in video calls used for meetings and schooling. Even still, this represents a small portion of the total traffic on our network.

The industry-wide collaboration between Retail Service Providers, nbn co and various content providers has played a key role in allowing these traffic increases to be absorbed painlessly. Given many people will continue to work and study from home for the foreseeable future, we think it makes sense to extend the 40 percent free allocation of CVCs (the separate volume-based pricing charge) for the locked down geographies for the time being or, as we and others in the industry have called for previously, for nbn co to look at removing the CVC pricing structure altogether.

Changing for the ‘new normal’

COVID-19 has fundamentally changed the way our country works. A seemingly simple task like returning to the office is littered with new concerns that need to be accounted for. From social distancing in lifts to reconfiguring collaborative working spaces, we need to think differently about everything.

Based on this ‘new normal’ and knowing how vital connectivity is to ensuring a growing digital economy, we’re thinking about how we can help.

At the height of the pandemic, we announced that we would bring forward $500 million of capital expenditure planned for the second half of FY21 into calendar year 2020. This investment will increase capacity in our network and accelerate our rollout of 5G.

It will inject much needed investment into our economy at this time by allowing Australians to work, learn and create remotely, while connecting face-to-face at a COVID-safe distance.

Our 5G rollout started in 2018. With technology designed to provide high-speed, low-latency, high-capacity connectivity, we focussed on deploying 5G in densely populated areas like CBDs, airports and train stations.

A global pandemic, however, means that fewer people can be in those locations. We’re now refocussing some of our 5G investments to deploy into areas that need more network capacity as a priority such as suburbs and regional areas.

This also goes beyond our mobile network. We need to reconsider how Australians work remotely via fixed networks to provide the right technology, the right product, and the right price.

Securing the home-enterprise

The work from home regime will become permanent in some way for many of us and we are working to create the right technology conditions for this permanent setting to be successful.

As enterprises keep their employees working from home for a protracted period, we must consider how that traffic is treated on our network from a security and authentication perspective. This must be tackled at both the enterprise and the home front.

In an age where there are more cyber attacks over home Wi-Fi networks than ever, we need to consider ways to make the burgeoning “home-enterprise user” rapidly more secure through new types of security services.

As we continue to answer these security questions, we’re already rolling out smart security solutions to protect everyone. Our Cleaner Pipes initiative works to actively block cyber threats on our network that would compromise the safety of our customers’ personal information, for example.

This not only helps our consumer-grade customers to stay safe, but also works to keep the new “home-enterprise” customer safe as they work to remotely staff virtual facilities like contact centres and helpdesks.

Pushing to the edge

This fundamental shift in how Australians are working and connecting means we need to radically rethink how network applications are consumed. Thankfully, we’ve been thinking about this for a while with our work on edge-computing: an emerging area of how networks and applications will work in the future.

When you use an application (like a CRM or virtual computer), you can often be limited by the time it takes the network to communicate and action commands. By putting these new applications closer to where they are consumed by users, they will become a lot faster and more distributed than they are today for better performance over ultra-low latency networks like our 5G network. COVID-19 has accelerated the interest in such technology.

Distributing the network capabilities increases speed, security and reliability of an application. Distributing the network applications closer to the edge in multiple locations also cuts down the amount of time someone is disrupted in the event of a network outage.

That’s why our investment to bring better, faster and more reliable network experiences to our customers is an important foundation for the wider digital economy as we all work together to come through the COVID-19 situation as strongly as we can.

Based on nbn traffic.

Professional woman working from home in living room on laptop with baby
Tech and Innovation |

Navigating our brave new virtual world

By Michael Ebeid AM July 7, 2020

Many sectors, from professional services to education and even the arts, have discovered a brave new virtual world during the COVID-19 pandemic. Whether working or learning from home for the first time, seeing your doctor, accountant, fitness instructor or vet on a video conference or attending a virtual performance. As restrictions begin to ease, how will people work, learn and live in this new world?

Since March 2020 organisations across Australia have realised that not only can their employees work from home but that productivity need not suffer as a result. In fact, many are finding the opposite is true.

The upsides of a flexible work policy are well-documented, particularly for an increase in employee attraction, retention and diversity but also to reduce congestion, strain on public transport infrastructure and pollution in the environment.

Virtual services, here to stay

Dad and child working from home on laptop

The video conferencing technology boom has heralded a new era for the services sector, where we saw a rate of digitisation in just a few weeks that we were expecting over the next five years.

Banks have transitioned to remote sales and service teams and launched digital outreach to customers to make flexible payment arrangements for loans and mortgages.

While telemedicine got a massive boost during the pandemic, we also saw the advent of virtual vet consultations and even virtual babysitters, to help Mum and Dad out when they needed an hour of peace and quiet to get some work done while school was out.

It’s not only professional workers who worked from home. Contact centre workers were set up with ‘agent at home’ solutions – spun up almost overnight – opening up employment opportunities all over Australia like never before. The implications of ‘work from anywhere’ are especially significant for urban planning and makes the dream of sea- and tree-changers much closer to a reality.

And while people are working from home, unable to pop to the bank at lunch, or worried about sitting in a GP’s waiting room, they’ve also wanted the convenience of accessing services from home.

This sizable shift in customer behaviour shows many prefer digital interactions when accessing services. KPMG’s recent research found that 75 percent of people using digital channels for the first time indicate that they will continue to use them when things return to “normal.”

When we emerge post-COVID, the services industry will not instantly revert to pre-pandemic operations. For many, they will continue to operate dual operations – physical and virtual – and for others, physical services may never return to pre-pandemic levels.

Remote education for all ages

According to the World Economic Forum, 1.5 billion students across the world were unable to physically attend school as a result of the pandemic. Fortunately for most, it was not the end of learning, only the beginning of remote learning, thanks again to technology.

While home-schooling certainly wasn’t for everyone and has led to a renewed appreciation of teachers, the ability to continue learning despite the challenges, was critical.

Telstra worked with Education Departments all over Australia to rapidly upgrade their networks to establish remote learning hubs. In South Australia we helped create virtual classrooms via WebEx for all public schools, allowing teachers to create their own individual online learning space to deliver live video lessons and learning content for their classes.

In the Higher Education sector, where the sudden departure of International students wreaked havoc, we connected many Chinese and Korean students to Australian universities. We developed an online solution for approximately 4,000 Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) students who were stuck overseas due to COVID-19 restrictions, allowing them to access educational resources and course content material.

These digital environments need not disappear post-pandemic. If education institutions can harness the digital tools they implemented during COVID-19, they will reap benefits not only of international education but the coming boom in micro-credentialing.

A new ING Future Focus Report shows that 3.3 million Australian adults are rethinking their career path because of the COVID-19 pandemic impact. It’s made many Aussies re-think their work choice with some questioning whether their existing skills will always be needed, while others have spent time dreaming about a change in career direction. To address this internally, we announced last week that we’re partnering with the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) to upskill a number of Telstra employees in the areas of data analysis, artificial intelligence and machine learning to meet the demands of a rapidly changing jobs market and digitising economy.

Being able to upskill in this rapidly changing world is an economic imperative and education has an important role to play.

Ensuring inclusivity

For those without access to the right digital tools, devices and connectivity, life in lockdown would have been very difficult – creating a wider digital divide than ever before.

The 2019 Australian Digital Inclusion Index found that the affordability gap for internet access between high and low-income households is at the same level it was in 2014. The nbn™ network is making connectivity easier but there’s a long way to go to close this gap.

When COVID-19 forced the move to remote learning, it really highlighted just how critical digital inclusion is. Working with state, territory, independent and catholic education departments we provided 30,000 free sim cards to disadvantaged students – not so they could watch Netflix or access social media – but so they could attend school and learn with their peers.

The digital economy will be a boon for many industries but we must ensure no one is left behind.

Many businesses thought they could never work remotely, but have quickly discovered that with the right technology, anything is possible. We are witnessing what will surely be remembered as a historic deployment of remote work and digitisation across almost every domain.