More than 2 in 5 (48%) employees say they can work at home, so who are they? Comparing generations*, of all Australian employees who are Baby Boomers, 30% consider it feasible for them to perform their work at home (based on the nature of their tasks), 41% of Gen X and 39% of Millennial employees consider it feasible for them to perform their work at home.
Of all Australian employees, 60% of professional or senior government officials consider it feasible for them to perform their work at home based on the nature of their tasks compared with 19% of teachers, nurses or police, and 13% of semi-skilled workers.
* Millennials aged 18-34, Gen X aged 35-49, Baby Boomers aged 50+
36% of employees believe it’s feasible for them to work from home based on the nature of their tasks
Having struggled for years with chronic back pain, Brisbane-based Kathie Kelly of Square Pegs Consulting has learnt that her best work doesn’t necessarily happen between nine and five, or after commuting in traffic to a fluorescently lit cubicle.Play video
Think you can’t work at home? Think again. Nearly twice as many employers (48%) say it’s feasible for their staff to work at home, compared to the number of employees actually doing so (28%).
of employees believe their employers have flexible working arrangements
of employers say they have flexible working arrangements in place
of employees say they work at home
of employers consider it feasible for their staff to work at home
A similar disparity applies to flexible working policies. Only 47% of workers believe their employer has flexible working arrangements in place, but a significant 84% Australian employers told us they do. And only 16% of employees say they receive financial reimbursement to work at home, compared to 28% of employers who say they provide one.
In fact most employers recognise the benefits of flexi working, with two-thirds (67%) of those who allow staff to work at home being driven by a desire to promote better work-life balance. What is clear is that there’s an opportunity for more employers to foster the flexi work option to their eager workforce.
From employees perspective
From employers perspective
have to work from home clase in the contract
have to work from home clase in the contract
have a flexible working from home policy
have a flexible working from home policy
It’s no secret that those who can work at home want to take up the opportunity. As many as 9 in 10 (90%) want to work at home regularly. In fact, 30% want to skip the office completely and work at home every day. The ability to work at home is an equally high or essential priority for Millennials (54%), Gen X (56%) and Baby Boomers (54%), no matter their gender. So why are they continuing to trudge into work?
Actual and desired frequency working at home
of employees who can work from home would like to do so at least once a week
who can work at home, take the opportunity at least once a week
There is a distinct difference in the mindset of why employees work at home.
For many, working at home provides time and freedom. Of those who work at home at least monthly, almost two-thirds agree that it gives them freedom around the actual work times (65%), enhances their work-life balance (61%) and saves them the commute (67%). It’s no surprise, then, that almost 6 in 10 employees work around other commitments while at home, rather than sticking to the 9 to 5.
For some, working at home is driven by workplace culture, with 45% who work at home at least monthly saying they are encouraged by their workplace, 44% motivated by the need to get more work done and almost 4 in 10 (39%) saying they work at home because most of their colleagues do.
Looking at those who work at home at least monthly, we can identify 57% as self-initiated employees and 43% as work-initiated employees.
It all comes down to “perception paranoia”. Fear plays a huge role for Aussie employees who could but never or seldom work at home – 30% agree they are worried their manager will think they are not doing enough work, 27% are concerned what their colleagues will think, and almost 1 in 4 (24%) agree they are worried that they miss out on opportunities at work.
Comprising mostly females and parents, the “Disproportionately Diligent” group are held back by concerns around what their colleagues and managers will think. There’s a fear of missing out on opportunities, so-called “PROMO FOMO”, where they feel the need to be visible to get recognition. This is especially the case for Millennials and Gen X.
“Workplace Lovers” represent 29% of those who seldom or rarely work at home. These employees simply enjoy going to the office and believe working at home lacks the collaborative environment. They prefer to keep their work and home life separate, and don’t even mind the commute.
Finally, “Workplace Facility Lovers” make up 27% of employees who seldom or rarely work at home. This smaller cohort feel hindered by a lack of equipment, slow internet, and even inadequate space.
Things employees do to appear more busy
send more emails
make more phone calls
book more video calls
Finding the right work-life balance is a hot topic. And for many, working at home provides the answer. Six in 10 say (60%) they work at home to enjoy better work-life balance, with half saying it gives them more time for leisure activities.
Cutting out the commute is a big deal for 2 in 3 (67%) who work at home. The longer the commute, the more likely this is to be the driving factor for working at home.
Working at home also gives us more flexibility to schedule work around our lives. As many as 75% of employees break free at the usual 9 to 5 when at home.
Of all Australian Baby Boomer employees who work at home at least monthly, 70% agree that working at home allows them to structure their working day how they want, and 17% agree that they follow the example of their manager/colleagues. By contrast, 46% of Millennials and 33% of Gen Xs are influenced by the example set by their manager and colleagues to work at home.
Working at home can be better for our mental and emotional wellbeing too. Across all age groups and genders, almost 2 in 3 (66%) say they feel more relaxed when working at home compared to the office, not to mention less worried, more creative and more empowered.
Say goodbye to the 9 to 5. As many as 3 in 4 (67%) workers don’t follow typical office hours when working at home – and why should they? Take out the commute, add in the school run, some exercise and a trip to the local cafe, and the working day looks very different.
Interestingly, Millennials (43%) are the most likely to follow the typical 9 to 5 compared to Gen Xs (31%) and Baby Boomers (19%). And those without kids are more likely to have a flexible schedule, with only 30% sticking to typical office hours compared to 37% of parents.
Not only is there really no set schedule, for many who work at home there’s also no set location. Only 55% work in a separate office space, while 36% work from the living room and 15% from the bedroom.
Access to internet helps people work when and where they want. With the ability to share work and collaborate using cloud technology, project management apps, chat apps, and video calling, there are fewer reasons forcing employees to work set hours from the same desk every day.
Founder and CEO of the highly successful Australian Writers' Centre, Valerie Khoo, not only loves from working from home, she sees the advantages of enabling her team to work remotely too.Play video
Almost half (45%) of Australian employers are worried about productivity of staff working at home. But the reality is workers feel more productive at home than in the office. They also feel more creative, less stressed and cite improved skills.
Why? It could be down to having a quieter environment and no colleagues and managers around to tap them on their shoulder. It could also be because employees are working when and where it suits them best, and with no commute, there is more time to get stuff done. Perhaps unsurprisingly, 1 in 3 (34%) do not feel distracted at all when working at home, most likely down to the reduction in interruptions that can happen in the average workplace.
Working at home can help to create a smarter workforce. Of all Australian employees who work at home, 76% stated that their problem solving skills further developed, 74% stated that their self-motivation skills further developed, and 73% stated that their time management skills further developed as a result of working at home; all of which can benefit the business and their career. This is especially the case for Baby Boomers, with 80% saying they have improved self-motivation skills compared to Gen X (75%).
Having the right stack of support tools and technology makes a huge difference to efficiency. In addition to phone, email and SMS, some workers are using online chat, meeting apps, video calls and cloud sharing to stay productive and collaborative. However, there’s a huge opportunity for wider adoption of technology, as the nbn™ network rolls out we expect the country to reach its full potential for efficiency and productivity at home.
35% of employees who work from home do not feel distracted at all.
(n = 330)
Technology enables people to work in increasingly flexible ways. But are employees embracing its full potential? Not necessarily. Only 11% communicate with their colleagues using video conferencing, 13% via audio conferencing and 18% via messaging programs regularly (daily or multiple times a day), when working at home.
In fact, employees working at home are relying mostly on the same traditional communication tools as the office, namely email and phone calls. However, they do use SMS/MMS more when working at home (33%) compared to the office (26%). Employees also prefer to use their own devices when working at home, with more than double using a personal mobile (63%) than a work mobile (30%).
Their fear of being out of sight, out of mind is leading some employees to over-communicate at home: 30% send more emails, 21% make more phone calls and 11% book more conference calls to appear busy. But there is clearly an untapped opportunity for more efficient communication, especially when it comes to web-based collaborative tools.