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Nearly half in Australia and NZ telework under informal policy: study

Adam Bender | Nov. 1, 2013
Teleworking is increasing even while many businesses in Australia and New Zealand lack written agreements or training for remote working, according to a report released today by Cisco.

Nearly 90 per cent of employees work from home at least an hour per week, says Cisco study.
Nearly 90 per cent of employees work from home at least an hour per week, says Cisco study.

Teleworking is increasing even while many businesses in Australia and New Zealand lack written agreements or training for remote working, according to a report released today by Cisco.

 

The Trans-Tasman Telework Survey was jointly conducted by the University of Melbourne's Institute for a Broadband-enabled Society and AUT University's NZ Work Research Institute.

The researchers surveyed about 1,800 employees and 100 managers from 50 organisations in Australia and New Zealand. The research took place between April and September, and consisted of an online survey and manager interviews.

While 89 per cent reported teleworking one or more hours per week, and the mean number of teleworking time was 13 hours per week, only 22 per cent of businesses in Australia and New Zealand have a formal written teleworking agreement with employees, the survey found.

On the contrary, 47 per cent of teleworkers said they have only an informal arrangement with their manager and 3 per cent said they telework without the organisation's knowledge. The other 27 per cent of teleworkers said they have a verbal agreement with their manager.

The largest proportion of employees surveyed, 38 per cent, said they do "hybrid teleworking," working remotely one to three days per week. Another 16 per cent reported teleworking more than three days per week. The study found that 35 per cent work remotely sometimes, but not more than eight hours a week, and only 11 per cent did no teleworking at all.

"A lot of the organisations couldn't actually tell us ... how many of their workers actually teleworked to any degree, and that reflected a lot of it is actually ad hoc," said Laurie McLeod, a researcher at the NZ Work Research Institute.

However, establishing a policy for telework will yield the greatest results, said Tim Bentley, director of the NZ Work Research Institute.

"Teleworking will be effective to you in terms of productivity and wellbeing if you provide the necessary support, including technical support," he said at a media conference today in Sydney.

Organisations interested in teleworking should start with a hybrid teleworking pilot program and then do a cost-benefit analysis to prove its benefits, he said.

Bentley said a major gap was overcoming cultural resistance to teleworking. Having training for both managers and the teleworking employees could overcome those kinds of problems, he said.

"It's people, not technology, that are limiting teleworking effectiveness," he said.

"Managers tell us [that] a lot of them don't have the necessary attitudes or skills to promote and manage teleworking, and they also have some concern about some employees not having the necessary skills and training."

 

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