Is working from home the ideal workplace? It depends on your workers and your industry.
For more than a decade, tens of thousands of Australian workers have transitioned away from the physical workplace to work from home. Since the COVID-19 shutdowns, almost half of the Australian working population has spent time working from home.
When given a choice in 2020, 78% Aussies expressed a desire to spend at least a certain amount of their time working from home. 40% said they would like to work mainly at home, and 36% wanted the workplace to be their mainstay. Perhaps not surprisingly 81% of those employed on a part-time basis showed a stronger desire to work at home than 70% of those employed full-time.
But what about productivity? A Harvard study showed that pyjama-clad workers were more efficient to their office-bound colleagues and spent less time away from their desks. An amusing research detail showed that introverts are 30% more productive than extraverts when working from home. The former group is also more likely to choose WFH; only a 5th of extraverts would select the same.
An Australian study converted the time spent commuting, on average 1-hour per worker per day, to productivity gained. The increase in productivity would be equivalent to a 13% increase.
Even if productivity is greater when working independently, many agree that gathering centrally is immeasurable for collective brainstorming and promotes positive team outcomes and community.
Research from Roy Morgan shows over 4.3 million people (32% of working Australians) have been ‘working from home’ (WFH) during the last few months since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down large parts of the Australian economy. These findings are based on interviews with 9,905 Australians aged 14+ conducted in April-May 2020 – of whom 6,637 are working Australians.
Working Women (33%) are slightly more likely than men (32%) to be working from home during this period and there are significant differences between age groups. People aged 35-49 (38%) are the most likely to be working from home followed by those aged 25-34 (36%) and 50-64 (33%).
Far less likely to be working from home are those workers at either end of the age spectrum with just over one-in-five of those aged 65+ (23%) working from home and only 17% of those aged under 25.
There are also significant differences between people working in different industries. Over half of people working in Finance & Insurance (58%) and Public Administration & Defence (51%) have been working from home and just under half of those in Communications (47%).
Far less likely to be working from home are Australians working in more ‘hands-on’ industries. Fewer than one-in-six Australians working in Manufacturing (16%), Transport & Storage (15%), Agriculture (13%) or Retail (12%) have been working from home during the last few months.
(image: unsplash. Stats from Roy Morgan and The Economist)