The report from the NSW Innovation and Productivity Council (IPC) said that while COVID-19 pushed remote working to an extreme, working remotely is rarely an all-or-nothing choice, with many workers able to adopt a “hybrid model” of working some of the time from home and some of the time onsite.
It found that only 5 per cent of workers can perform all tasks remotely, but around half of all workers can work remotely for at least two days a week.
According to the hybrid model from the IPC, it takes remote work’s best aspects and combines them with the benefits of gathering together in one location, whereby:
- The majority of workers can work remotely some of the time.
- Workers can gather onsite for collaboration, team building and “non-remoteable” tasks.
In response to the report, IPC member Steve Sammartino said the report showed the pandemic has sparked a cultural shift on remote working, with many employees and businesses experiencing benefits and with more appetite to work remotely.
“The biggest benefit is the time we save from commuting, which on average is more than an hour a day. Reducing traffic congestion makes life better for everyone, even people who don’t work remotely,” Mr Sammartino said.
“We are also more productive when we work from home, with NSW remote workers 13 per cent more productive than when they work onsite.
“But COVID-19 pushed remote working to an unhealthy extreme, with a lot of work unable to be done remotely, it can get lonely, and collaboration is difficult.
“In the future, NSW workers want the best of both worlds — a hybrid of remote and onsite work. Cities and offices will be buzzing again, and central business districts will be crucial for collaboration, innovation and consumption.”
NSW Minister for Jobs, Investment, Tourism and Western Sydney Stuart Ayres said it has been an incredibly tough time with huge upheaval and change for the NSW workforce.
“Thousands of jobs were lost through this crisis and those who kept working were put under immense pressure and had to adapt quickly. Many NSW workers and businesses were prompted to try remote working for the first time,” Mr Ayres said.
“The IPC’s report looks into what we learnt from the experience, and how it could affect the future of work. While the NSW government is now encouraging public servants to spend more time back in the office, we can expect long-term changes to how our working week takes shape.”