A survey of more than 6,000 Australian Public Service employees, including nearly 1,400 managers, has found that working from home has been an ‘overwhelmingly positive’ experience.
The study suggests that making employees go back to the office full time could erode some significant gains, researchers say.
They outline their findings in a report titled Working during the Pandemic: From Resistance to revolution.
The report found that managers were highly supportive of working from home, representing a major mindset shift.
More than 90 per cent of managers thought their teams’ productivity was the same or higher than when they were working from home.
Most employees thought they got more work done, had more autonomy and enjoyed personal benefits, with 80 per cent saying they had more time for time for themselves and their families.
More than two thirds wanted to continue working from home on a regular basis.
Dr Sue Williams from UNSW says the survey shows that working from home works on many levels.
“Our research shows that people are more productive,” she said.
“And it’s not just employees telling us that, it’s managers.”
Co-researcher Associate Professor Linda Colley from CQ University said the survey showed public sector managers were now seeing working from home in a different light.
“Almost two-thirds of managers are more supportive of employees working from home in the future,” she said.
“This is good, as the majority of respondents want to continue working from home for some days of the week.”
Win for gender equality
She also said it could represent a step towards more gender equality in the workplace, with evidence that combing work and caring can boost productivity.
Men said they were doing more caring work and one in six women said they had been able to increase their working hours.
This could have the unexpected result of reducing the gender pay gap and improving career development for women, as well as being good for superannuation, Dr Williamson said.
“Enabling employees to be able to continue working from home may therefore progress gender equality, particularly for women in APS-level positions, where they have more autonomy, and are better able to combine work and family responsibilities,” the researchers write.
However the survey did find there were some downsides to the shift to working from home, with some employees saying they were working longer hours than they wanted and had fewer opportunities for networking and personal development.
ICT infrastructure was also problematic for some workers.
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