The benefits of working at home are there for the asking, Ben Pike writes
TECHNOLOGICAL innovation and employees’ demands for a better work/life balance is driving a push for more people to work from home than ever before.
But if workers want to begin the new year with a better work arrangement, they need to pitch it to the boss now and in the right way, experts say.
As Australia shifts to a more service and digital-based economy, the Federal Government is aiming to have one in eight people working from home – on a full or part-time basis – by the end of the decade.
The majority of that growth is likely to be in the over-35 age category, Australian Bureau of Statistics figures show.
Up to 78 per cent of workers currently working from home are aged 35 years or older compared with 61 per cent of all employed people. ringing and people coming by my desk’,’’ she says.
‘‘ I went on to ask for a trial working from home to see if my productivity improved.
‘‘ It worked out well because my employer said ‘ yes’ (after the trial).’’
Barr now acts as a productivity consultant.
She says that people who work from home can actually be more productive because the job can be more attuned to their lifestyle.
‘‘ Employees need to have a clear vision of where they want to go with their company and have that broken down into specific goals,’’ she says. THE industry with the most people working from home is construction (16 per cent), followed by professional, scientific and technical services (14 per cent).
Many information and communication technology roles are suited to working from home, as are marketing and consultation occupations.
Kenelm Tonkin, the chief executive officer of conference company Tonkin Corporation, says teleworking only works well with service-based occupations and tasks that can be outsourced.
‘‘ The employee also needs to be a mature person with financial and family commitments,’’ he says.
‘‘ Employers (with younger employees) will be looking over their shoulder not seeing the work done.
‘‘ Thirdly, the job needs to have a defined output that runs according to a deadline.’’
Tonkin adds that workers need face time with the boss.
‘‘ Humans, being what they are, you have to eyeball each other at some point.’’ THE construction of the National Broadband Network, quickening internet speeds, mobile technology and the increasing popularity of the online tele-visual program Skype have been fuelling the increase in teleworking.
Cloud technology – where software and work systems are accessed from anywhere online rather than only in the office – also has made it easier to create networks of workers in disparate locations.
ABS figures show 84 per cent of people working from home are using information technology.
Information technology Professor Chengqi Zhang, from the University of Technology, Sydney, says the NBN will make teleconferencing much easier and increase numbers working from home.
‘‘ If the internet speeds are fast enough, you can have a virtual room for discussions where people can meet online,’’ he says.
‘‘ Staff recruitment can be made a lot easier because people can make a virtual presentation and not have to travel long distances. Currently the internet speed is not good enough for that.’’
Traci St Lawrence (pictured with daughter Cassidy Morris on cover) is the internal communications and social media manager at Unisys.
The mother of two works from her Sydney home two days a week and in the city the other three days, saving two hours of commuting a week.
She says it’s important to have a separate room at home in which to work.