Contributed by: Tim Bentley, Director of the NZ Work Research Institute at AUT University
Teleworking (also referred to as telecommuting or flexible working) is known to have many benefits to both employee and employer alike. However, recently AUT University’s NZ Work Research Institute, in collaboration with the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society, delivered the findings of research examining manager and employee perspectives on telework productivity and wellbeing in Australia and New Zealand. The research was commissioned by industry partner, Cisco.
This study has found strong evidence of the positive benefits of telework for both individual workers and their organisations. The key study finding is that telework promotes improved productivity and satisfaction with work, with hybrid teleworkers performing better than those who do little telework. These conclusions are supported by findings from both the on-line survey which measured productivity, where teleworkers out-performed non-teleworkers, and from manager interviews, with managers expressing high levels of satisfaction with their teleworkers’ productivity.
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After a successful inaugural National Telework Week last year, we find ourselves at that time of year again. This week (November 18-22) is the second National Telework Week in Australia, where workers across Australia are implored to engage in flexible working wherever possible – be it from home, from a café, from a satellite office or from a client’s office. To mark the occasion, Cisco is teaming with Telstra, the Institute for a Broadband Enabled Society (IBES), the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), the Australian Industry Group (AIG) and the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA) to host the second annual Telework Congress in Melbourne today.
The Telework Congress promises to be an excellent event with a blockbuster program. Headlining the event is The Hon. Malcolm Turnbull, Minister for Communications, who delivered the opening keynote earlier this morning via video. Other interesting speakers include: Cindy Auten, GM of the Mobile Work Exchange from Washington DC (via TelePresence) and Peter Wilson, Chairman, Australian Human Resources Institute and many more. Cisco’s Martin Stewart-Weeks will be leading a session on “Telework Leadership and Management”.
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Cisco is pleased to join the Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society (IBES), the Australian Human Resources Institute (AHRI), the Australian Industry Group, the Australian Information Industry Association (AIIA), and Telstra as supporters of Teleworking Week by partnering to host the second annual Telework Congress which takes place tomorrow.
By Tim Fawcett, General Manager, Government Affairs & Policy, Cisco Australia
With today being the kick-off of the second annual National Telework Week, it’s the right time to reflect on progress made in Australia in relation to the digital economy.
Both Federal and State Governments are encouraging Australian businesses to embrace the digital economy, which Deloitte Access Economics estimates to be worth over $70b by 2016. However, in my opinion, Australia has a legislative and regulatory regime that is designed for a 20th century economy. And, this dichotomy is inhibiting the take up of digital economy opportunities by Australian business and government.
For example, the former Labor government set a target to get 12% of public servants teleworking at least one day a week by 2020. The Coalition believes this goal can be reached even more quickly – reportedly by 2017. However, the current regulatory regime around flexible working arrangements, OH&S and workers compensation may stifle opportunities for employers and employees to work together to deliver mobile working arrangements.
Meanwhile, Trans-Tasman Telework research launched last week by the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society and AUT University’s NZ Work Research Institute demonstrated that employees in Australia and New Zealand want to telework with 71% of employees agreeing that teleworking has a favourable influence on their overall attitude to the job.
In my view the most important take-away from the research is the finding that productivity was rated significantly higher on a range of measures by hybrid teleworkers, with ratings up to 12 percent higher for teleworkers, suggesting a meaningful difference in output.
A review of laws and regulations by the Productivity Commission would allow government organisations around Australia to identify and appropriately reform the laws that are preventing Australian businesses from taking up the opportunities the digital economy and high speed, ubiquitous broadband offer.
Put simply, 20th century laws are preventing the take up of the digital economic opportunities of the 21st of century. This needs to change if Australia is to keep pace with other economies that are already effectively harnessing the power of the digital economy for competitive advantage.
Tim Fawcett is General Manager of Government Affairs & Policy for Cisco ANZ and represents Cisco on the Australian Government’s Advisory Panel on Teleworking. Tim leads Cisco’s public sector engagement team and would like to see technology move to the centre of public policy development.
On Monday night, Cisco once again joined forces with the Make a Difference Foundation (MAD) as a major sponsor of the MAD Ball 2013, an event organised by the foundation to raise funds to help disadvantaged children and young people in Australia. The fundraising efforts for the MAD Foundation are concentrated on this one epic event that is held on the eve of the Melbourne Cup every year.
The race that stops a nation is the perfect backdrop for the elegant affair which is held at the Plaza Ballroom, Regent Theatre in Melbourne. This year was an exceptionally opulent affair with a Great Gatsby theme for the event. Cisco and MAD are ideal partners as we share a core aim, to challenge each and every one of us to make a difference. Our corporate social responsibility strategies and programs focus on providing our staff, partners and customers with opportunities to give back to the communities in which we do business.
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Last week an independent study on trans-Tasman teleworking practices that we had commissioned from the University of Melbourne’s Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society and Auckland University of Technology’s (AUT) New Zealand Work Research Institute. The research was the first of its kind with over 1,800 employees and 100 managers surveyed across Australia and New Zealand to delve in to the attitudes of teleworking in the two countries.
To launch the report we hosted media in three Cisco offices across the region (Sydney, Melbourne and Auckland) with researchers joining the event via TelePresence in each location. The key researchers presenting the findings were Professor Tim Bentley, AUT University, Dr Laurie McLeod, Dr Rachelle Bosua, University of Melbourne and Dr Marianne Gloet, University of Melbourne
The report uncovered some very interesting findings and resulted in the coining of a new term – the “Hybrid Teleworker”. A Hybrid Teleworker is someone who teleworks between one and three days a week and the study has found that this group is the most productive worker.
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