New Digital Strategy Aims 12% of Aussies to Telework by 2020

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By Vittorio Hernandez | November 5, 2012 10:27 AM EST

The federal government of Australia will launch this November the National Digital Economy Strategy which aims to double the number of Australians who telework to 12 per cent by 2020. The roll out is part of the country's observance of Telework Week from Nov 12 to 16.

The strategy seeks to reverse the decreasing number of Aussie telecommuters, currently at 6 per cent of the country's workforce, according to a 10-year survey made by Melbourne University.

The highest proportion of work-at-home arrangements are in the IT industry. The Hudson ICT 2012-13 Industry Leaders Series report said 52 per cent of IT professionals and managers in Australia and New Zealand said their organisations provided flexible working arrangements from some workers.

Other western nations such as the U.S., Canada and Britain have higher percentages of people working from home. Robyn Clough, public policy manager of the Australian Institute of Management, explained the lower percentage in Australian to the country being slow to adapt to this new corporate environment despite the obvious benefits to the growing practice.

The benefits include higher productivity, cost savings and lesser gridlock as less people drive their vehicles to the office. On the average, Australians spend 43 minutes to reach their offices daily.

She blamed the block at the management level for the less acceptability of telecommuting in Australia. Cathering Raffaele, a senior research analyst at the Workplace Research Centre of Sydney University, explained the distrust of work-from-home arrangements to suspicions or perceptions that not much work is done with telecommuting.

"There is plenty of research to suggest that people working from home are more productive. Also, they feel more in control . . . so they have higher satisfaction levels and are more engaged," The Sydney Morning Herald quoted Ms Raffaele.

Her contention is supported by a 2010 study made by global tech firm Cisco that 69 per cent of people who work remotely were more productive, while another research by U.S. telecom giant Bell Atlantic estimated 25 hours of telecommuting was equivalent of 40 hours of office work.

To support the launch, Adobe will also roll out is Work Anyplace@Adobe programme to help and encourage more working flexibility for employees through the use of collaboration tools made by the tech firm such as the Adobe Connect videoconferencing. Because of the seamless communication and connectivity, the U.S.-based Adobe was able to hire some new staff in Australia who would telecommute, disclosed Adobe Managing Director Paul Robson.

Less than 50 per cent of IBM Australia employees work in a classic office environment, while up to 5 per cent work from home on an almost full-time basis, The Australian reported.

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