Australia Anywhere Working (Telework) Research Network
What is AAWRN?
The establishment of the AAWRN will develop more comprehensive research around anywhere working (telework) within Australia and internationally and its impact on productivity, carbon footprints of individuals and organisations and employment accessibility to help answer these questions.
The overarching question is why hasn't anywhere working become business as usual? Anywhere working (telework/telecommuting/home working) has generally been defined as working from a home office. There are many benefits to working this way, for example better work life balance and increased personal productivity. These benefits have been well documented and some organisations do this very well (for example Medibank, CISCO, Citrix, IBM, Microsoft). The finance sector is an example where it is difficult to change the culture. More on Working from Home by Manisha Thakor
Anywhere working can lead to isolation and there are issues around how to ensure employees feel part of the organisation and/or connected to others. A number of other issues discussed in the literature include managers being reluctant to manage employees remotely (visibility or presentation issues), employee wellbeing (for example work intensification) and understanding the business case for working flexibly, for example how does anywhere working provide better service to customers. Research from IBES (University of Melbourne), who are part of the Anywhere Research Network, released some of the IBES findings.
What is exciting is that anywhere working can be further expanded to include working from a telework (smart) hub, the NBN rollout will facilitate our ability to connect, cloud computing keeps our data secure and smart devices provide the interface for accessing emails, documents and social media. It means we can access the skills and capabilities of people wherever they are, it allows people who otherwise are excluded from the workplace to be productive (eg. those with disabilities or those that live in remote areas) and we have the capability to be competitive in the globalised economy.
Smart hubs are being implemented around the world and there is one in Melbourne (called Hub Melbourne). There will be a similar hub in Sydney in the first half of 2013. There are other initiatives to develop smart hubs around Sydney. This type of arrangement provides the social interaction that is missing for some individuals such as those that are in start up companies who would like to find others that can complement their skills. Sometimes face to face interaction is the best way to build these relationships.
The Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy is working with industry partners to increase the take-up rate of anywhere working - facilitated by the NBN rollout. In conjunction with cloud computing where we can access our documents and information anytime anywhere this provides flexibility for how we work - it is only constrained by our imagination. Work has to be thought of as something we do, not a place. Mobility is becoming more important, as written about by Anthony Plant.
Who is involved?
- Lecturer at Macquarie University
- Research Coordinator for The Australian Telework Research Network
- Member of the Centre for Workforce Futures, Macquarie University
- Research Theme Leader, Government and Commercial Services, CSIRO
- Deputy Secretary, Digital Strategy and Services, Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy
A/Prof Martin Fitzgerald
- Newcastle University
- Research Fellow in the Department of Management and Marketing, University of Melbourne
- Institute for a Broadband-Enabled Society, University of Melbourne
Who do I contact for more information?
For more information or for interviews please contact: