For those who think working from home is a luxury, here's news from Australia. Steven Conroy, the Mister for Broadband and Communications, (that's a government ministry? In the US it's more like an afterthought) says employers in his country should get with the telework program.
Here are some interesting statistics from the Sydney Morning Herald:
- In Australia, six percent of employers report a formal work-from-home arrangement with workers
- In the US, ten percent of workers say they work from home at least one day a month
- In Europe, the numbers are slightly higher
A couple of things occurred to me as I read this and I'm eager for your opinion on this, so feel free to post away:
Those numbers seem low. I have nothing but my gut to go on, but don't these numbers seem a bit unrealistic to you? Look around your office any Friday afternoon and tell me only ten percent of the seats are empty.
Either the Aussie government has very bad numbers (shocking that any government might not be working from the current facts) or most companies that allow working from home don't have a formal policy for it.
Infrastructure matters. People can't work from home if they don't have fast, reliable access to the outside world. This doesn't speak just to the utilities that provide broadband and the governments that regulate it. It also applies to companies with outmoded VPNs and other networks that make working remotely way more difficult than it has to be.
Obviously, Australia is making this a priority (or at least making the right noises). What's going on in your country?
When governments anywhere recognize things have changed, they have changed for good. No government would be confused with an "early adopter" of technology. So what Conroy said in this report is interesting.
"By connecting workers from home, employers could tap into the skills of workers from across the country, improve work-life balance and potentially reduce absenteeism", he said.
"The delivery of reliable high speed broadband to every Australian premise will potentially revolutionise how we will work. It promises to transform who is able to work, when you can work, where you can work and how you can work."
This only reflects what many of us already know. A growing percentage of the workforce is now made up of part-timers, contractors and "virtual employees" who don't fall under the old categories of workers and labor policy.
What he doesn't say, of course, is that company policies, labor laws and the like have to catch up and reflect this new reality. All the bandwidth in the world won't solve problems like bad leadership, poor equipment and outmoded ways of managing performance.
What's going on where you live and how is it impacting the way you and your team work?