Research conducted by global recruitment firm Robert Walters shows that Australia still has traditional working barriers to overcome if flexibility is to become the ‘new normal’ in a post-COVID world.
The firm’s survey of more than 1,000 Australian professionals revealed only 36% of Australian organisations had implemented work-from-home practices within two days of the COVID-19 outbreak compared to 68% in the US, 57% in New Zealand, 52% in the UK and 50% in Japan.
Three in five respondents indicated that senior leaders had a preference for traditional ways of working, which represented a barrier to working from home. Additionally, 60% of organisations experienced technology problems, which affected their ability to set up remote working practices.
In general, however, COVID-19 prompted many organisations to implement new working practices to ensure business continuity.
“Business leaders made swift changes to the way they work, leading to an unprecedented acceleration in remote working,” said James Nicholson, managing director of Robert Walters – ANZ.
“With many businesses now going back to the office, the changing expectations of employees in a post COVID-19 world has meant that organisations and particularly senior leaders will need to adapt their thinking and implement what flexible working now looks like.”
Half the respondents indicated that, prior to the pandemic, working from home was the exception rather than the rule. Post-pandemic, it seems 76% believe their leaders will use this experience to enable more employees to work from home on a regular basis.
“For many senior leaders the mandatory lockdown has been a trial run for embedding workplace flexibility into new ways of working. It is great to see that organisations are taking the need to adapt and be flexible with work practices seriously,” said Nicholson.
The survey also found:
—75% of respondents feel their leaders will need to be more empathetic to work-life balance
—69% believe their leaders will need to focus on outcomes rather than time spent in the office
—65% believe their leaders need a better understanding of technology and its role in collaborative working.
“Increasing and maintaining flexible working arrangements that were introduced during lockdown will go a long way to increasing the health, safety and wellbeing of employees now and into the future,” added Nicholson.