The employers surveyed come from a range of business sizes and industries. More than half of employers we surveyed (53%) have two to four staff reporting to them, 31% have five or more staff reporting to them, and 16% have one staff member reporting to them.
The employers we surveyed are 38% Millennials, 35% Gen X and 27% Baby Boomers, and more than 4 in 10 (46%) have kids. Almost 6 in 10 (60%) of Aussie bosses believe it’s feasible for them work at home themselves.
More than half (60%) of bosses say they could work at home. So how does their experience compare to employees?
Employers working in office environments and professional industries or, who own their own business are those most likely to be able to work at home. Interestingly, 57% of employers who allow staff to work at home say it's because they prefer to work at home themselves.
Balancing family responsibilities with work life is important for employers with kids. For almost half (46%), the ability to work at home was part of the decision to take their current role, compared to just 24% of employees with kids. And for 4 in 10 (40%) employers with kids, being able to work at home was part of the incentive for them to return at maternity/paternity leave, compared to just 17% of employees.
When it comes to supporting working at home, employers are motivated more by employee wellbeing than productivity and fiscal benefits. Around 2 in 3 (67%) Aussie employers who allow staff to work at home do so to promote better work-life balance, save on the commute, and allow work time flexibility.
The benefits are no secret: a better work-life balance can mean happier, more productive, and more loyal workers. Employees generally feel more positive working at home than in the office and 56% say they are more productive.
Employers care what workers want, because it leads to higher engagement and retention, and helps them recruit the best and brightest talent. In fact, almost 8 in 10 (78%) say having a flexible working policy helps them engage a larger pool of applicants.
Good for staff and good for business, working at home offers lots of perks for the 8 in 10 (84%) Aussie employers who have flexible working arrangements. So, why are only half of employers advertising their flexible working opportunities when recruiting?
Have noticed a decrease in staff turnover
Stated that flexible working policy attracts larger pool of applicants
44% reduced taxes
67% lowered overheads
48% reduced travel costs
Added to the lower staff turnover are the cost benefits: more than 2 in 3 have lowered overheads as a result of letting employees work at home, with around half noticing lower travel costs and taxes. This is especially the case for small businesses, of which 57% point to cost-savings as a reason for allowing work at home, compared to 51% of medium and large companies.
Working at home also helps employers attract top talent. More than half (55%) of workers say they look for flexible working options as a priority in a new role.
say the ability to work at home is a high or essential priority when looking for a new role.
don’t advertise working at home/flexible work arrangements when hiring for a new role
Offering flexible working options isn’t practical or even possible for all businesses, all of the time, but it is feasible for many. And with companies experiencing increased productivity, happier employees, lower costs and greater retention rates as a result, it’s surely a no-brainer.
From using his garage as a stock room and working from his kitchen table, Vince Luong grew Allure Bathrooms from a 20ft container of product that he sold on eBay, to a business with a $10 million annual turnover, an online store, distribution centre and four retail showrooms – all from the comfort of home.Play video
If employees are asking for greater flexibility, employers recognise the advantages, and technology allows it, why aren’t more businesses embracing working at home?
One of the biggest barriers is communication. For those employers whose staff could work at home, more than half worry about communicating effectively with them. Additionally, 39% worry about managing their staff at home, and the same number are concerned about the lack of a collaborative environment.
Adopting web-based communication technologies could help assuage employer fears around productivity and collaboration – and are especially effective for connecting with remote workers. However, just like employees, only a minority of Aussie bosses use video conferencing (25%), audio conferencing (25%) and messaging programs (34%) to communicate with staff working at home – despite around 60% believing these tools are effective.