By 2020, Australia will have doubled the level of telework, so that at least 12 per cent of Australians around the country have a flexible arrangement to work from home or other locations away from the office, using high-speed broadband.
Getting more Australians working from home will have great benefits for employees and employers alike. A significant factor in telework uptake will be the reliable, high-speed broadband that will reach all premises via the NBN. Fast download and especially upload speeds will give a much better telework experience. It will allow many of us to take part in video conferencing and work together at the same time from different locations. High-speed broadband will give employers more confidence to introduce telework, which will help to attract and retain staff, and boost productivity. This means more of us will be able to participate in the workforce and employees will enjoy greater flexibility around when and where they work.
Why is it important?
International evidence and experience shows that telework can deliver a broad range of benefits to individuals, employers, and society as a whole. Telework is a shift in the way we do business that can make a big difference over time. As an example, a recent study revealed that NBN-enabled telework is expected to add $8.3 billion to Gross Domestic Product by 2020, creating the equivalent of an additional 25,000 full-time jobs. Around 10,000 of these jobs will be in regional Australia. When it comes to the environment, it has been estimated that if 10 per cent of Australian employees were to telework 50 per cent of the time it would save 120 million litres of fuel and 320,000 tonnes of carbon emissions. That rate of telework would also deliver a productivity benefit of between $1.4 billion and $1.9 billion a year.
Where are we now?
Australia’s level of telework continues to lag behind other countries. Currently around 6 per cent of Australian employees have a telework arrangement with their employer. Recently, Census 2011 data confirmed that the numbers are low – 4.4 per cent of Australians were working in their main job from home for most of the previous week. By comparison, among the emerging markets in Asia, 25 per cent of employees in India and 18 per cent in China, report that they work from home most of the week.
The Telework Partners are a network of more than 150 organisations, including some of Australia’s leading companies, not-for-profits and small businesses. The Partners lead and collaborate to support the take up of telework nationwide.
Australia’s first National Telework Week was held 12-16 November 2012 to promote the benefits of NBN-enabled telework. Social and traditional media engagement reached a potential audience of 48 million people and more than 30 events were held nationwide. National Telework Week did a lot to increase awareness of telework and laid the groundwork for NBN-enabled telework uptake.
A supporting website was launched – www.telework.gov.au – where you can find fact sheets and checklists, quickly and easily find out how much time and money telework could save you, and watch case studies of the challenges faced by Australian employers who have successfully integrated telework to enjoy its many benefits today.