Home is where the work is | ACMA

Research snapshots

15 October, 2013 12:30 AM

Research snapshots

Home is where the work is

By Joseph Di Gregorio

Working from home

5.6 million Australians use the internet to work away from the office

An estimated 5.6 million adult Australians aged 18 years and over were ‘digital workers’ in May 2013, using the internet to work away from the office.

At that time, digital workers made up 51 per cent of the total number of employed Australians. This increased to 59 per cent of employed persons aged 35–44 and 70 per cent of employed persons with a university qualification (Figure 1).

In this snapshot, ‘digital workers’ refers to:

  • Australians using the internet to work away from the office outside ‘standard working hours’
  • ‘teleworkers’ who are allowed to work away from the office, substituting coming into the office for part or all of the day.

Figure 1 Use of the internet to work away from main place of employment, May 2013

ss3figure1 gif

Note: Dark columns identify maximum values.

Use of the internet to work away from main place of employment, May 2013 xlsx

Away from the office—how often?

Digital workers spent a significant amount of time using the internet to work away from the office (Figure 2):

  • 2.8 million (49 per cent) worked away at least two days a week
  • 863,000 (15 per cent) one day a week
  • nearly two million (35 per cent) less than one day a week.

Figure 2 Frequency of working away from main place of employment via the internet, May 2013

ss3figure2 gif

Frequency of working away from main place of employment via the internet, May 2013 xlsx

Home is where the work is

Home is the main place of work for digital workers outside the office. At May 2013:

  • 4.6 million (82 per cent of all digital workers) worked from home
  • 1.6 million (28 per cent of digital workers) worked while travelling, including commuting (Figure 3).

Figure 3 Locations of internet use when going online to work away from main place of employment, May 2013

ss3figure3 gif

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

Locations of internet use when going online to work away from main place of employment, May 2013 xlsx


Devices used by digital workers

Sixty-eight per cent of digital workers used their own laptop or one provided by their employer to work away from the office. Also making their presence felt are emerging consumer devices, such as smartphones (33 per cent) and tablets (21 per cent). Thirty per cent used a PC (Figure 4).

Figure 4 Devices used to work away from the main place of employment, May 2013

ss3figure4 gif

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

Devices used to work away from the main place of employment, May 2013

Can I work from home?

Thirty-nine per cent of SMEs allowed their staff to work away from the office at least one day a week. The percentage was higher for medium-sized businesses (55 per cent) compared to 38 per cent for small businesses (Figure 5).

Figure 5 SMEs allowing employees to work away from the main place of employment at least one day a week, May 2013

ss3figure5 gif

SMEs allowing employees to work away from the main place of employment at least one day a week, May 2013 xlsx

  • Nearly 67 per cent of SMEs in the communication service sector allowed their staff to work away from the office at least one day a week—the highest for all industry sectors.
  • The wholesale trade (52 per cent) and the property and business services sectors (47 per cent) were next.

ICT for SME staff

SMEs with digital workers gave their staff extra information and communication technology (ICT) equipment (Figure 6). Seventy-three per cent of SMEs with digital workers said that these staff needed internet access to work away from the office.

Figure 6 ICT provided to staff, May 2013

ss3figure6 gif

ICT provided to staff, May 2013

How many digital workers in SMEs?

Just over a quarter (26 six per cent) of SMEs with digital workers had between 81 and 100 per cent of their staff working away from the office at least one day a week. At the other end of the scale, 28 per cent of SMEs with digital workers had 10 per cent or less of their staff adopting this flexible work practice (Figure 7).

Figure 7 Incidence of digital workers among SME staff, May 2013

ss3figure7 gif

Note: Base is all SMEs with digital workers.

Incidence of digital workers among SME staff, May 2013 xlsx

Digital working—drivers and barriers

How digital workers see it

Ninety-five per cent of digital workers reported some benefit from working away from the office (Figure 8). Specific benefits included:

  • flexibility (55 per cent)
  • the opportunity to get more work done (30 per cent)
  • access to home comforts (26 per cent).

Fifty-three per cent of digital workers said there were no negatives associated with working away from the office, however:

  • 24 per cent of digital workers reported reduced access to communications
  • 20 per cent said they had reduced access to colleagues (Figure 8).

Figure 8 Perceived benefits and negatives of working away from main place of employment, May 2013

ss3figure8 gif

ss3figure9 gif

Note: Multiple responses allowed for benefits and negatives.

Perceived benefits and negatives of working away from main place of employment, May 2013 xlsx

How SMEs see it

SMEs identified the nature of their business as a driver and a barrier to allowing staff to regularly work away from the office:

  • 45 per cent of SMEs with digital workers reported that having staff work away from the office was essential to the nature of the business
  • 38 per cent said these arrangements provided greater flexibility (Figure 9).

In contrast, 87 per cent of SMEs that did not allow employees to regularly work away from the office said this practice did not suit their businesses (Figure 10).

Figure 9 SMEs—Reasons for allowing employees to work regularly from a place other than the office using communications technology, May 2013

ss3figure10 gif

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

SMEs—Reasons for allowing employees to work regularly from a place other than the office using communications technology, May 2013 xlsx

Figure 10 SMEs—Reasons for not allowing employees to work regularly from a place other than the office using communications technology

ss3figure11 gif

Note: Multiple responses allowed.

SMEs—Reasons for not allowing employees to work regularly from a place other than the office using communications technology xlsx

Snapshot background

Data in this snapshot is taken from the two surveys commissioned by the ACMA, conducted in May 2013. The surveys covered:

  • 2,400 household consumers aged 18 years and over
  • 1,500 SMEs.

This is the third in the ACMA’s research snapshots series and follows:

  • Australians cut the cord—5 July 2013
  • Connected business—September 2013.

Each snapshot covers a single issue and allows the ACMA to focus on convergence and digital economy topics of interest to stakeholders. The snapshots and other ACMA research are online at www.acma.gov.au.

An infographic summarising the report is also available, as well as a word version..

Comments and enquiries about research snapshots should be sent to communications.analysis@acma.gov.au

Further information

Twitter

Join the conversation and follow us:

twitter gif @acmadotgov