Hopes working from home is the new normal

Finbar O’Mallon
(Australian Associated Press)

 

Two-in-three Australians expect to be working from home more often after the coronavirus pandemic.

Experts are warning the shift might not work for everyone and people could struggle to switch off from work at home.

Four-in-five people also feel more positive about their work/life balance after working from home.

The survey commissioned by NBN Co and released on Tuesday found 83 per cent of Australians couldn’t work from home without high speed internet.

Two-thirds of Australians didn’t work from home before the pandemic, but since lockdown this moved to 46 per cent.

Swinburne University’s Asanka Gunasekara said while some Australians had the ability to work from home before, the pandemic had forced them to try it.

“It works for some people, it’s definitely not for everyone,” Dr Gunasekara told AAP.

She said people would likely spend the majority of the working week at home.

Mondays would be one of the more popular days to enter the office for team catch ups and meetings, with Friday unlikely to see many people coming in.

Australian National University’s Liana Leach said the pandemic had been a “natural experiment” for working from home.

“People have been shaken into changing their work and their family boundaries,” Dr Leach told AAP.

“I think that there is a willingness to recast what work will look like. The challenge there is it will have to work for businesses and for individuals.”

She said there was a risk it would blur the boundaries between jobs and home lives, which could see employees over-committing to work.

The survey conducted by Venture Insights also found half of Australians now used online exercise classes, up from 36 per cent before the outbreak.

With people cut off from their mates and family, more had turned to social video calls, with usage up from 49 per cent before the pandemic to 59 per cent.

A third of Australians used telehealth services since lockdown started, up from under a quarter beforehand.

NBN Co chief customer officer Brad Whitcomb said the pandemic had sped up the digitisation of Australians’ lives.

“We expect that many of these new behaviours are here to stay,” he said.