Prospects for Working from Home: Assessing the evidence
We are still learning from the impact of the pandemic on our working arrangements and transport demand. A new synthesis of WFH data based on iMOVE related projects offers further insights into, and recommendations for, this area.
Over the last two years iMOVE and partners have been working on projects looking at many aspects of Working from Home (WfH) including trends, behaviour and perspectives from both employers and employees. We’ve distilled the findings and policy recommendations into a report, Prospects for Working from Home: Assessing the evidence.
More information on these projects can be found here:
- Working from Home: Revising metro strategic transport models (two projects in one; the first in Queensland, the second in NSW and WA)
- Encouraging continuation of work from home post-pandemic
- Working from home: Changes in transport demand in Perth
The overarching objectives of these projects are “to understand the economic and social impacts of the COVID-19 shock on the Australian economy and, specifically, to assess the evidence in relation to changing work practices; and the consequential impacts on”:
- Productivity and wellbeing
- Travel demand
- Use of, and investment in, transport infrastructure
- Use of transport services
The report identifies the financial, economic, and social benefits of working from home, including:
- reduced commuting expenditure, whereby for most commuting is generally considered to be a derived demand (i.e. not necessarily a desired ‘good’)
- commuting time savings; leading to more time for leisure or work (whether paid or unpaid)
- reduced traffic congestion, thus benefiting those still using the transport networks
- reduced crowding on public transport, providing reassurance to individuals as well as wider public health benefits in terms of better managing biosecurity threats
- reduced future public infrastructure investment and operating expenditure required (holding congestion and crowding at pre-COVID levels and assuming no change in a commuter’s value of time)
- seemingly no loss in productivity, at least at a macro level, although this remains an open question; and
- some evidence of improved wellbeing (although it is early days for a deep analysis of this – needs more study).
Working in Office vs Working from Home
For the continuation of Working from Home the report suggests that:
… a hybrid Working in Office / Working from Home model will evolve for the approximately 50% of the Australian labour force able to do a significant proportion of their job tasks away from the workplace. Indeed, a gradual trend towards more WfH was evident in the decade before the global pandemic arrived in Australia.”
Even though Working from Home has been with us in this new sense for more than two years it is very much still early days.
It is clear from a review of the evidence on employer and employee preferences that the WfH experiment is still very much in progress. While there are many clear benefits from switching to WfH, there are also potential costs, some of which may not be immediately obvious to either employers or employees.
In the report we make seven recommendations drawn from evidence gathered in the four WfH projects and are put forward as policy recommendations.
Those seven recommendations concern:
- Transport network infrastructure investment and public transport
- Industrial relations flexibility
- Digital infrastructure
- Working from Home Standard Industry Code of Practice
- Government employment
- Ongoing review of Working from Home
Download the report
Learn more about this huge shift in Australia that has taken place in from 2020 to the present, by downloading the report. In it is a compilation of the research methods and findings, along with our policy considerations and recommendations.
Click the button below to download your copy of Prospects for Working from Home: Assessing the evidence.