Digital Age Changing Work Place Forever

An estimated 5.6 million adult Australians aged 18 years and over were ‘digital workers’ in May 2013, using the internet to work away from the office, according to a new survey by the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA). At that time, digital workers made up 51 per cent of the total number of employed Australians.

 

An estimated 5.6 million adult Australians aged 18 years and over were ‘digital workers’ in May 2013, using the internet to work away from the office, according to a new survey by the Australian Communications Media Authority (ACMA).

At that time, digital workers made up 51 per cent of the total number of employed Australians. This increased to 59 per cent of employed persons aged 35–44 and 70 per cent of employed persons with a university qualification.

The definition of a digital worker includes somebody who uses the internet to work away from the office outside ‘standard working hours’ and ‘teleworkers’ who are allowed to work away from the office, substituting coming into the office for part or all of the day.

The survey showed that 2.8 million (49 per cent) worked away at least two days a week; 863,000 (15 per cent) one day a week; while nearly two million (35 per cent) were tuning in remotely less than one day a week.

More than 82 per cent of digital workers worked from home while 1.6 million worked while travelling, including commuting.  

Sixty-eight per cent of workers used their own laptop or one provided by their employer to work away from the office. Also making their presence felt were devices such as smartphones and tablets.

Thirty-nine per cent of small to medium enterprises (SMEs) allowed their staff to work away from the office at least one day a week. The percentage was higher for medium-sized businesses (55 per cent) compared to 38 per cent for small businesses.

Nearly 67 per cent of SMEs in the communication service sector allowed their staff to work away from the office at least one day a week—the highest for all industry sectors.  

Just over a quarter (26 six per cent) of SMEs with digital workers had between 81 and 100 per cent of their staff working away from the office at least one day a week. At the other end of the scale, 28 per cent of SMEs with digital workers had 10 per cent or less of their staff adopting this flexible work practice.

And how do workers feel about working from home or remotely? Ninety-five per cent found it beneficial due to flexibility (55 per cent); the opportunity to get more work done (30 per cent), access to home comforts (26 per cent).

Fifty-three per cent of digital workers said there were no negatives associated with working away from the office, however 24 per cent of digital workers reported reduced access to communications; 20 per cent said they had reduced access to colleagues.

Eighty seven per cent of SMEs that did not allow employees to regularly work away from the office said this practice did not suit their businesses.

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