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1 in 5 Australians will still work from home post-pandemic says CSIRO and NBN

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Nearly one in five Australian workers may continue to work from home despite the easing of COVID restrictions, according to research published by the CSIRO and the NBN.

Before the pandemic one in 20 Australians worked from home but the Staying Connected report shows different behaviour and habits have formed during the pandemic.

Working from home was more common in Melbourne (28 per cent) and Sydney (27 per cent) which endured sustained outbreaks and lockdowns over the previous year compared to other cities like Perth (18 per cent), for example.

The report suggests that working from home is likely continue for up to 20 per cent of the population for at least part of the week.

Those most likely to continue remote working include:

– Business and systems analysts and programmers

– Database and system administrators and ICT security specialists

– Arts professionals

– Media professionals

– ICT network and support professionals

– Financial and insurance clerks

– Information and organisation professionals

– Architects, designers, planners and surveyors

– ICT managers

– Sales, marketing and PR professionals

The report shows that managerial occupations had some of the highest working from home levels earlier in the pandemic, but they have returned to work in greater numbers as restrictions eased when compared to most professional occupations.

This suggests the importance of in-person interactions.

The study shows the pandemic has accelerated in some areas the pre-existing trend of remote working which was put in place to reduce travel for certain types of work.

The research also showed an increase in work from home rates in regions around the fringes of the biggest cities which suggests some employees are choosing to relocate further away from their officers because they don’t have to commute every day.

“This research draws on thew NBN’s deep knowledge of broadband traffic patterns and CSIRO’s expert data analysis and modelling capability to further understand how households and businesses across Australia have used digital channels during COVID-19,” says Joanna Gurry, NBN chief data officer.

“The ability to work from home has been vital to Australian workers, employers and governments through the pandemic.

“While we hope the peak of the COVID-19 crisis will soon be behind us, many changes will persist, with significant implications for how, and where, we live, work and interact with each other.

“These insights help us to understand long term trends the pandemic is driving so we can continue to evolve and invest in the network.

“The findings related to online social interaction are also important for us as we continue to work toward lifting the digital capability of older Australians.”

Dr Andrew Reeson, economist from CSIRO’s Data61, said: “The COVID 19 pandemic dramatically accelerated long standing digital transformation trends.

“Through this report we sought to examine how this shift to working and socialising online unfolded.

“In this way, the report provides a snapshot of a unique moment in our history and gives an insight into the some of the changes we may see emerge over the next 12 months.

“In addition to working from home, the analysis found widespread evidence of people increasing their online social activity, such as video calling, as physical distancing restrictions were introduced, with some of this persisting even as restrictions eased.

“Online interactions were lowest in areas with a greater proportion of older residents, suggesting there may be an opportunity for digital literacy programs or technology provision to support those who currently miss out, though more fine-grained data would be required to confirm this.

“This is the first research project between NBN and CSIRO, with more projects planned to improve understanding of the skills, infrastructure and support needed for Australia’s digital transformation.”