Many people now have to work from home, due to the spread of coronavirus. It’s fitting then to rerun a story I wrote three years ago which was picked up by the media.
I started Republic Resumes many years ago in Melbourne. Back then, I saw people face-to-face. I’d interview them and write their resumes and cover letters while they waited. Talk about stress!
Now I work online as a resume and cover letter writer, focusing on the Adelaide, Wollongong and Canberra job markets.
Before the virus hit, about 700,000 Australians were in formal teleworking arrangements with their employers. Many were women, sole traders and Boomers.
The benefits of teleworking to Adelaide, Wollongong and Canberra employers and employees, are not in dispute. A 2013 Melbourne University study found that teleworkers got more done and had less distractions than office workers. Companies with teleworkers experienced lower staff turnover.
Even so, in Adelaide and elsewhere, there’s an enduring assumption that being present equals commitment. This may be true for staff who need supervision or those working in line manufacturing or ‘on the tools’ – but commitment and attendance are two different things.
Some businesses frown on teleworking, stating that personal collaboration is more conducive to creating ‘magical moments’ – those serendipitous meetings of staff who solve problems standing around the water cooler. This is an HR fantasy.
Geographically distant online teams are the norm for many corporations in Europe and the US and they will be in Australia too.
The great bonus for self-directed staff working from home is focus. This is what the best employers want – the ability of staff to draw upon their deepest capabilities to solve complex problems and produce high-order work.
Another benefit is traffic reduction. More than 200,000 vehicles enter and leave Adelaide every day. A recent Australian Infrastructure Audit said that without new investment in infrastructure, “car travel times are expected to increase by at least 20 per cent in the most congested corridors.”
The RAA predicted that drivers on the most congested routes might spend up to an extra 50 hours a year in their cars. What a colossal waste of petrol, money and time. If one in 10 Adelaide workers teleworked two or three days a week, traffic speed would increase dramatically and traffic snarls would vanish.
Instead of the state and federal governments spending billions of dollars on roads over the next 20 years, that money could be spent on long-term job creation.
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