The survey of over 1,000 Australians conducted by Employment Hero in their 2022 Wellness at Work Report has revealed some interesting insights into the future of work.

With everything we’ve faced over the last few years, one thing has been constant – change. We’ve learned to put our priorities into perspective and are shining a spotlight on what works and what may need to be left behind in the “new normal”.

The survey asked respondents a variety of questions about their thoughts on remote work, including how the pandemic has shaped their working habits.

You can read the full report here.

Here are some of the highlights for me.

Are people actually going back to the office or not?

That is the question many companies are asking themselves these days. Many employees made the transition back to in-office work during the pandemic, with 45% now working there full-time. However, many companies are still standing at a crossroads when it comes to work.

With the outbreak of the pandemic, working conditions have been forever changed- and now employees demand more than ever before.

If an employer attempts to return to pre-pandemic work conditions by insisting on a full-time return to the office, they will see a significant increase in turnover rates.

There are significant business benefits to flexible working, including higher productivity and reduced commuting time.

Over half of Australian knowledge workers work remotely at least some of the time, and 45% have returned to the office full-time.

Although many employers are pushing for employees to return to the office full-time, 24% of full-time office employees stated that they prefer working from the office and 25% enjoyed the culture.

A staggering 50% of hybrid and remote workers would consider quitting their job if their employer directed them to return to the office full-time, whereas 23% of workers who worked remotely some of the time would not quit.

Remote working has shown that knowledge workers want flexibility, and they would like to work remotely at least one day per week. The youngest age group is the biggest supporter of remote working.

Another major finding is that 76% of knowledge workers would consider a remote position. However, some business leaders are questioning the benefits of remote work.

A growing number of people are moving interstate or to regional cities, and 33% are considering moving overseas or taking a working holiday. Younger age groups are more likely to have taken or considered a move in location.

It’s crazy to believe that so many of us now want flexibility above so many other things like money and title.

We’ve seen a huge shift in what’s important to us, and it seems that the traditional working model is no longer cutting it.

The pandemic has forced us to re-evaluate our priorities and how we want to live our lives. For many of us, that means valuing our time and well-being above all else. I’m very keen to see how this plays out in another few years.

Global access to talent and removing barriers for marginalised communities

Remote work offers many benefits to employees and employers alike. By removing barriers for marginalised communities, businesses can create a more equitable future.

Hybrid and remote work creates more equitable employment opportunities for those who may not have them otherwise. 51% of workers from marginalised groups said that workplace culture improved while they worked remotely.

The proportion of marginalised groups who agree with statements about discrimination, career opportunities, acceptance, and protection from discrimination in the workplace is high, but it is promising to see that this decreases when working remotely.

In the last 12 months, 48% of Australian Aboriginal or Torres Strait Islander employees have experienced discrimination or harassment at work, and 48% of workers with a disability have experienced discrimination or harassment at work. Employers can support their employees that are experiencing discrimination by providing remote and hybrid working opportunities.

This wasn’t something I was thinking about until I read this report. The more I read, the more I realised that there are so many benefits to remote work- not just for employees, but for businesses and society as a whole.

It’s time for businesses to start taking remote work seriously and invest in the infrastructure and support that employees need to be successful, particularly for those from marginalised communities.

Remote working to help battle inflation

Groceries, fuel, interest rates, rent and utilities are all steeply trending upwards, and this is driving up the price of everything.

Sadly, there is no relief in sight as the cost of living soars, and financial stress can seep into every part of one’s life.

Many people are now choosing to work second jobs or take advantage of the money-saving opportunities that remote working provides in order to help offset increasing household costs. In Australia, many workers are doing multiple jobs, with millennials making up the biggest demographic of these individuals. The research found that 51% of knowledge workers have a secondary income stream, and 24% have a second job or side business venture.

Employees with multiple income streams report higher productivity, improved quality of life, and less focus away from their primary job.

In 2021, going into the office wasn’t a high priority for many workers. Now, workers are becoming more aware of the extra expenses that can come with working in an office.

Remote working is becoming an increasingly popular way for Australians to battle the increasing cost of living. A recent study found that remote working saves Australians approximately $10,000 per year.

I wonder as the workforce moves to primarily remote whether employers would be open to subsidising some of these household costs? For example, could we see a rise in employers offering to cover internet costs for their employees?

I know some companies had subsidised their employees during the COVID lockdowns to set up appropriate WFH equipment, maybe this could be expanded to help with other costs.

It’s an interesting thought, and one that I’m sure will be explored in greater detail in the years to come.

Digital adoption is not just staying but sprinting; here’s how people feel about it

A pandemic drove accelerated digital adoption, and many businesses transitioned their entire workforce to remote work. Three years on, the habits that were developed during this time are continuing to shape the future of work.

Automation and digital tools are helping to transform workplaces and drive efficiency, reduce costs and boost productivity, but how do employees perceive these tools?

Technology continues to transform the way we work, and half of the knowledge workers agree that AI and machine learning can make work more efficient.

Like with any disruptive technology, there will be resistance. A lack of education about what this new technology actually does could fuel low trust.

While many Australians see the benefits of AI and machine learning, many remain worried about its use in the workplace.

The survey found that the majority of Aussies are in favour of remote work, with a third of respondents stating that they would prefer to never work in an office again.

The benefits of digital adoption are clear – it helps to drive efficiency and reduce costs. However, there is still some resistance to change, with many employees unsure about the impact of new technologies such as AI and machine learning.

With any change, there is always some resistance, but I think it’s important to remember the benefits that these technologies can bring. Employers should continue to educate employees about how these tools can help make their work lives more efficient, better yet, give them the opportunity to put forward their suggestions on how digital tools can help them in their roles.

In conclusion, it’s clear that the pandemic has accelerated the digital transformation of workplaces, and this is set to continue in the future. Employees are becoming more comfortable with new technologies, but there is still some resistance to change. Remote working is becoming an increasingly popular way to work, with many employees preferring to never work in an office again. Employers need to provide support and education to employees about new technologies to help build trust and ensure a smooth transition.

What do you think about the future of work? Let me know in the comments below.

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