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There’s no place like home for SA workers


The mass evacuation of city offices as staff headed for home work stations during the initial wave of coronavirus shutdowns is long over. But the latest mind and mood survey has found the desire to continue work remotely remains strong.


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As reported by Square Holes back in May, South Australians were quite enjoying working from home and this trend has continued in the latest survey results from the end of July and beginning of August.

The survey also found that many South Australians have always had the opportunity to work from home, a lifestyle choice that could be used to attract talent to the state.

Square Holes founder and managing director Jason Dunstone said of the 52 per cent of South Australians indicating they are currently in paid employment (33 per cent full-time and 19 per cent part-time), just under half (46 per cent) are able to work from home.

Dunstone said this percentage varied between age groups.

“Only a small proportion of South Australians aged over 65 are in paid employment (4 per cent full-time and 8 per cent part-time), yet of those who are, 63 per cent are able to work from home and are doing so the majority of their week,” Dunstone said.

“This may be based on the nature of the work of older South Australians.”

Dunstone said the survey found that more males in paid employment had been able to work from home since social distancing restrictions were in place than females (54 per cent of males, 37 per cent of females).

“Working from home is also more prominent for metropolitan Adelaide workers, compared to regional workers,” Dunstone said.

“On average, of those able to work from home have been working 26 hours in a 40 hour week from home.”

The ability to work from home, however, wasn’t new for many of the respondents, with 37 per cent of respondents averaging 15 hours in a 40 hour week from home pre-COVID.

“The proportion of time working from home increases with age,” Dunstone noted.

“It is interesting that working home is becoming more natural for many irrespective of doing independent or collaborative tasks,” Dunstone said.

He said that back in May, the Square Holes home research found there was a clear difference between where independent tasks and collaborative tasks were performed, with up to 75 per cent of people preferring independent tasks at home and collaborative tasks in the office.

“In the latest survey there is a 50:50 balance for independent and collaborative tasks,” Dunstone said.

“Clearly Zoom, Teams and other video meeting tools are becoming more natural to many.”

The latest research found a preference skew towards working from home if the option is available, similar to the May research.

“In May the average percentage of work from home was 58 per cent for those in paid employment able to work from home, in July it was 59 per cent,” Dunstone said.

“This is generally consistent across age groups, yet much higher amongst the relatively small number of those over the age of 65 in paid employment.”

The survey also found that Males in paid employment able to work from home had a slightly higher preference towards work from home than females (62 per cent males, 56 per cent females), and metropolitan Adelaide was higher than regional areas (61 per cent metro Adelaide, 49 per cent regional SA).

“Likely one of the biggest impacts of COVID-19 has been a preference shift and normalisation of work from home,” Dunstone said.”

He warned that as many employers increased calls to bring staff back to the office more permanently, they will likely be hit with resistance.

“Clearly there is a preference towards work from home,” Dunstone said.

“With organisations such as Australia’s biggest recent tech success Atlassian publicly telling employees they can work from home forever, the nature of workplace culture and geographic base starts to crumble.

“Such a shift in thinking may be challenging for many leaders, yet opportunity may come from leveraging South Australia’s wonderful lifestyle as a base for optimal home and office balance.”

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