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Employee work-from-home demands escalate

Peter Switzer
10 January 2022

Employees are increasingly wanting to work from home and some bosses are happy to play ball, but will this post-virus trend end up being a fad or will it be the employment model going forward?

The AFR says work-from-home job ads, including those offering “permanent” work from home (WFH), have almost doubled over the past nine months, with indicators suggesting the rise is continuing post-lockdown.

Research from data analytics firm The Purpose Bureau found:

•  Job ads offering temporary and permanent WFH options had increased 95% from March 1 to December 31, 2021.

• Firms less than two years old were 41% more likely to offer remote working than mature firms. This is understandable because it’s more likely as start-up costs are crucial to a new business and rent can be a big hit as growth happens. The cost of going from home-based to an office or shopfront can be a big expense for a new operation.

• Data of job ads indicate that permanent remote working had become a feature of the employment landscape.

• WFH is growing fast in professional services, where 798 offers per 10,000 ads come with flexible locations for where work can be done. Administrative jobs (628) and media and technology (590) are also increasingly getting on the WFH bandwagon.

So why is this happening?

  1. There are cost-saving for businesses on rent, wages, office supplies, etc. Bosses could easily pay less and workers could accept it as they save so much on commuting, lunches and even childcare!
  2. Virus challenges, which could be around for some time, mean employers are happy to accept WFH workers.
  3. Some employers could use WFH offerings to attract quality staff.
  4. Other bosses could be simply trialling a different way of engaging staff.

Interestingly, the AFR quotes the chief executive of the Australian Human Resources Institute, Sarah McCann-Bartlett, who says many recent resignations have been powered by employees wanting to work from home.

“Voluntary turnover is increasing month by month and employers understand that they need to be providing the flexibility that employees are demanding,” she said.

But what are the implications of all this?

• Happier workers.

• Higher productivity for some businesses, however, there could be lower productivity for other businesses and lower profits.

• Lower employment costs for some businesses.

• This could lead to employers trying workers from overseas who are cheaper or employees could be replaced by contractors.

WFH is not a one-way street that favours workers. It could be good for employers too. The consequences could be great for some workers but tragic for others, especially if they lose their jobs as interest rates rise and home loan repayments spike on properties that were bought for way too high prices!

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