As Aussie workers return to the office, only 20% strongly agree employers are prepared for new ways of working

More than nine in ten workers (91%) are happy with the job their company did to adapt to the challenges of COVID-19, but say their employers aren’t prepared for what comes next

SYDNEY, Australia – July 1, 2020 – As office workers across the country prepare to return to work in a COVID-19 world, they aren’t confident that their companies are planning for what comes next. 

In a survey of 2,000 Australian office workers recently conducted by DocuSign: “The Rise of the Home Enterprise: Lessons from Australia’s Office Workers,” 75% understand that the changes wrought by COVID-19 have permanently changed work life, and now is the time for their employers to embrace these changes. 

Respondents delivered a resounding positive opinion that remote work is the future norm and now is the time for their employers to envisage a better way of working: 

  • Eight in ten workers believe this period shows working from home is possible for a majority of jobs
  • 85 per cent of workers say new styles of working have a positive impact on how their business operates
  • 71 per cent would use this period to redefine how they work in the future

The “Rise of the Home Enterprise” reveals that changes in employee attitudes have created an opportunity for businesses to define a better future of work for all staff, right now.

“The scale and immediacy of change created by COVID-19 is disrupting the very idea of how work is done in Australia,” said Brad Newton, Vice President & General Manager, DocuSign Asia Pacific.

“This provides businesses with the opportunity to enable their employees to return to a better way of working, rather than the way they worked before. That means several things. Firstly, understanding that every employee has unique circumstances that impact their roles differently, secondly, adopting digital and cloud solutions to enable flexible, paperless, remote working and thirdly, defining the policies and processes of work in partnership with your staff – not mandating them.”

Such was the case for the employees of DocuSign customer HR Central, an Australia-wide Human Resource solutions provider for small to medium sized businesses.

“The key for businesses will be empowering each individual employee to work in the best way for them - not enforcing either flexible or office-based working, but providing the option. This fosters a culture of trust within an organisation, which is ultimately critical for overall productivity and employee satisfaction” -- Damien Gooden, Chief Executive, HR Central

Adapt Quickly, While Maintaining Productivity

Now that workers across Australia have proven they can effectively work from home, new challenges have arisen. The top three challenges Australia’s employees are facing include:

  • Maintaining motivation (44%)
  • Ensuring work-life balance (41%)
  • Feeling part of a team (34%)

Along with these challenges have come the realisation that the traditional office is outdated. Considered alongside the finding that Australian office workers are significantly more affected by missing their colleagues in terms of team camaraderie or social life (45%), businesses can look to a new type of flexible office, eschewing desks for a more flexible environment that meets the motivational, personal and interpersonal needs of employees, while taking a digital-first approach.

Enable Flexibility and Mobility as an Option, Not an Obligation

When asked what office workers want to take with them into the post-COVID-19 world, top of the list included:

  • The ability to work from home when required (61%)
  • Ability to define flexible working hours (50%)
  • Trust in employees to complete work, even if you’re not in the office (44%)

Empower Productivity Through Smarter Tools and Practices

Far from hurting productivity, 80 per cent of Australian office workers are working as hard, or harder, at home than they would in the office. In fact, one in six workers go as far to say they are working significantly harder out of the office.

Age and family play a role in the intensity of remote work. Younger workers, between 18 and 24, show a higher likelihood of doing less work at home than the average (34% as against an average of 20%), while parents are more likely to be working harder.

“The traditional assumptions we have of how we work - commuting to an office, sitting at an assigned desk, using wired, corporate owned technology, inflexible hours and roles - have been upended. Now that employees have seen there is another way, they have been empowered to expect more from our organisations. Now is the time to approach work in a new, mobile, flexible way.” – Brad Newton, Vice President & General Manager, DocuSign Asia Pacific.

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