Tuesday, 26 May 2020 10:15

Working from home during COVID 19 crisis ‘positively’ impacts Australians, survey reveals


Australians who have been required to work from home during COVID-19 say the experience has positively impacted how they view their work/life flexibility, according to a new behavioural change survey by National Broadband Network operator NBN Co.

According to the survey, conducted by Venture Insights and commissioned by NBN, that was the effect of working from home - and with that access to fast broadband had made 81% of respondents who could work from home feel more secure in their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis, with 83% saying they could not have completed their jobs without it.

The NBN Survey investigated Australians’ internet usage habits before and during social distancing, to understand how consumption needs were changing and the behaviours that might endure post-restrictions being lifted, also revealing that:

  • 67% say they expect to work from home more after the COVID-19 crisis has ended, and
  • 81% of work from home respondents agreed access to fast broadband had made them feel more secure in their jobs during COVID-19, and 83% agreed they could not have completed their jobs without access to fast internet.

According to NBN Co the reliance on fast broadband has been reflected in network data demand over the nbn network, which has experienced increases of up to 70% in business hours traffic volumes since social distancing measures were implemented on 1 March.

“The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of our lives and highlighted the very reason the nbn™ broadband network was built. The way Australians use the internet to work, learn new skills and connect with their family, friends and colleagues has been transformed, and we expect that many of these new behaviours are here to stay,” said Brad Whitcomb, Chief Customer Officer at NBN Co.

Whitcomb also said NBN Co itself had been “walking the working from home walk”, with all employees except field technicians shifting to remote working seven weeks ago.

“Having successfully transitioned such a high percentage of our own staff to working from home, we have had a very real experience of what has been occurring for workers across the country,” Whitcomb said.

“We expect the experience to inform our thinking about how we work as a company in the future and I expect that many other companies are considering how remote working may become a more permanent feature for their teams after social distancing measures are eased.”

And NBN Co says already Australians have begun to embrace their new ways of working, with more than two-thirds of respondents (67%) who worked from home indicating they expect to work from home more after the COVID-19 crisis has ended.

NBN Co says this number was higher for those living in metro areas (69%) than those in regional areas (54%).

“As working habits have changed over the past several weeks, many preconceptions about the viability of long-term remote working seem to have shifted,” said Nigel Pugh, Managing Director of Venture Insights.

“We’ve seen in the research that, for many Australians, this change in routine has given them the freedom to embrace greater work/life flexibility. In light of this, it’s not surprising that two-thirds of respondents who worked from home are interested in maintaining their new ways of working even after restrictions are lifted.”

According to NBN Co, the home workspaces of Australians have also transformed to reflect the ‘new normal’, with the survey finding that since COVID-19, 69% of respondents have purchased one or more devices to support their online activities, and that number increases to 79 % when looking at respondents working from home.

And, of the people who are working from home, 56% have created new or dedicated office space.

“As people settle into their new routines, they are beginning to consider how their professional habits might change in the longer-term. For NBN Co, it’s vital that we continue to invest in understanding what those changes are so we can best support Australians to get more out of their in-home internet experience well beyond the COVID-19 crisis,” Whitcomb said.

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Peter Dinham

Peter Dinham - retired and is a "volunteer" writer for iTWire. He is a veteran journalist and corporate communications consultant. He has worked as a journalist in all forms of media – newspapers/magazines, radio, television, press agency and now, online – including with the Canberra Times, The Examiner (Tasmania), the ABC and AAP-Reuters. As a freelance journalist he also had articles published in Australian and overseas magazines. He worked in the corporate communications/public relations sector, in-house with an airline, and as a senior executive in Australia of the world’s largest communications consultancy, Burson-Marsteller. He also ran his own communications consultancy and was a co-founder in Australia of the global photographic agency, the Image Bank (now Getty Images).

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