The disruption to our transport systems and way of life caused by COVID has also presented opportunities to learn how we can do things better. This is reflected in the appetite to undertake research projects in this area, which are delivering some interesting insights.

The pandemic, and Working from Home (WFH), have already had a huge effect on the demand for movement. Understanding the demand for movement, and any changes that are occurring is crucial for the managers of our road and rail networks, our traffic, and our public and private transport systems. And because those systems support the movement of people and goods, changes in the travel behaviour of people working from home effects everyone’s travel experience.

This is important to our participants in the transport sector because WFH creates a way to mitigate congestion on our road and rail networks. It also raises the question of whether the next billion dollars of infrastructure spend should be directed to physical infrastructure or communications infrastructure. In a world of flexible working arrangements, which investment (of taxpayer dollars) creates the greatest national benefit?

The potential impact and importance of the working from home paradigm has been recognised by numerous iMOVE participants, and we already have several WFH-based projects underway, in jurisdictions right across the country.

You can see details and updates about our WFH projects below, including eventually updates on their progress, and final reports.

Working from Home: Facts and figures

From Working from Home (WFH) and Implications for Revision of Metropolitan Strategic Transport Models

  • Prior to COVID-19, of those who were employed, the vast majority did not work from home (71%); however following the COVID-19 restrictions, that number almost halved (down to 39%),
  • The proportion of working days that are from home have decreased since the start of the pandemic in early 2020, but have remained relatively similar since the end of 2021, with over 30% for the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Area (GSMA) and over 20% for South East Queensland (SEQ). It seems that as we move forward towards a COVID-normal scenario, respondents want to work around 2 days a week from home (2.17 for GSMA and 1.87 for SEQ in September 2022) with lower incidence rates in regional locations.
  • Evidence suggests that workers are reallocating the saved commuting time in doing unpaid work for their main job from home (25-28%), doing home-based leisure activities (18-23%), and household tasks (17-25%).
  • A key influence on the ability to WFH is an individual’s occupation. Results show that employees in the categories of manager, professional and clerical/administration are more likely to WFH, which aligns well with the nature of work and
    the ability to work from any location, in contrast to many workers in other categories such as machine operators and drivers who cannot do their job unless they are on-site.
  • In Wave 5 of the pandemic in South East Queensland, respondents working from home saved an average of 68 daily minutes and 8.2 hours by not having to commute for work. In the GSMA the saving was a daily average of 74 daily minutes.
  • In general, that the results show that perceptions of productivity while working from home remained constant throughout the pandemic, and even towards what is considered by some to be the end of the pandemic workers feel they are just as productive as in their regular workplace before COVID-19.
  • The range of the percentage of days working that are WFH, suggests a potential drop in the amount of office space required at the main office of between 85.2% and 62.8%.
  • “More than half 54% of employees surveyed around the world said they would consider leaving their jobs if they are not given some form of flexibility regarding where and when they work.”
  • Surveys conducted by the BBC (2021) in the United Kingdom show that 60% of workers want to work from home at least some of the time, along with a large increase in the number of job adverts referencing flexible working arrangements.
  • Linked to WFH, increased online activity by workers reinforces the possibility of a 15-30-minute city, a residential urban concept in which most daily necessities can be accomplished by either walking or cycling from residents’ homes, which in the past has been especially hampered given it is mainly related to closer commuting locations with satellite offices.
  • 83% of survey respondents expressed concern about hygiene on public transport, indicating a likely high aversion to public transport at least in the short term.
  • Overall, car use during the pandemic was down by over a third (35%) and for the majority of respondents who were able to decrease car use, that reduction is even larger at 60% less than before COVID-19.

From the Australian Bureau of Statistics’ 2021 Australian Census

  • In the 2021 Census, the Australian Bureau of Statistics showed that of the 12 million people employed on Census day (10 August 2021), more than 20 per cent (2.5 million) worked from home on that day.
  • 31% (1.1 million people) of those employed worked from home in New South Wales, 26% (814,000 people) in Victoria, and in the Northern Territory, the figure was 4% (4,545 people).
  • People employed in Internet Publishing and Broadcasting had the highest proportion of people working from home (72 per cent). In contrast, less than 5 per cent of people employed in hospitals reported working from home.

From McKinsey’s 2022 American Opportunity Survey

  • In America, 58% of workers who reported having the opportunity to work from home at least one day a week did so.
  • 35% of American workers surveyed had the option to work from home 5 days a week.
  • When offered the chance of working flexibly, 87% of US workers take it.

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Working from Home projects, articles, and news stories