Prime Minister Julia Gillard is embracing the digital age, declaring on Monday that her government will ramp up efforts to increase telecommuting in Australia, which is in line with the $37 billion national broadband network (NBN) rollout.
The Australian public service sector, Ms Gillard said, is "harnessing the benefits of new technology and work patterns will be important for Australia if we are to embrace the opportunities of the Asian century."
The nation is set to capitalise on the advance digital communication infrastructures that the NBN will deliver once completed, the prime minister said, enabling the APS to increase its involvement in 'teleworking' environment from its present level of four per cent to 12 per cent by 2020.
The ball begins rolling next year, Ms Gillard, kicking off a futuristic scenario that would allow select federal workers to perform their duties without leaving the house. It will be a mixed set-up that would see government employees reporting to their respective offices in some days and doing some works at home, she added.
"That's why the government is building the NBN and why we want to engage with employers and employees to inform them of the possibilities of telework," Ms Gillard was reported by The Age as saying on Monday.
The new initiative is supported by a recent Deloitte report that showed work-from-home schemes would lead to significant contributions to Australia's gross domestic product (GDP) by the fiscal year 2020-21.
Up to 25,000 full-time telework jobs could be generated at around that time, which for the GDP translates to an extra $3.2 billion, the Deloitte report said.
"The government's investment in the NBN will give more employees and employers the confidence to engage in telework by delivering reliable, affordable high-speed broadband to all Australian homes and businesses," Ms Gillard was reported by GovernmentNews as saying.
Yet for some businesses, the telework business model seems industry-specific at the moment with sectors like tech, media, education, health care, design and management likely to benefit more from the set-up, experts said.
Telework may prove suitable for top executives, especially those who are constantly on-the-go, but the same cannot be said of mid-level managers, according to Telework Australia director Bevis England.
"It does perhaps get a bit harder for managers to manage remote staff when the outcomes of their jobs are not easily identifiable or measurable ... They have a problem with managing people they can't see," Mr England told News Ltd on Monday.
Notwithstanding, Cisco Australia is convinced that teleworking is the inevitable wave of the future that would become the standard in future federal government work set-up, the same way that it did in the United States.
It is also expected that education sectors, the universities especially, will take advantage of this innovation, in which regular lectures can be delivered online, Cisco explained.
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