9 December 2013

The National Broadband Strategy and other technological innovations allow a seamless integration of work, leisure and home-life through telework

Did you know that National Telework Week occurred on the 18-22 of November to raise awareness of the benefits of telework will take place? Sadly, most of you reading this may not even know what telework is, even if you are teleworkers yourself. Teleworking is the name given to working from home, simple as that! The benefits of telework are astounding­ - from reduced stress resulting from not having to sit in horrible Sydney traffic to commute to the office, to a better work/life balance and, in some cases, more time with your family. Like the sound of these benefits? You should give teleworking a try! 

Teleworking is already on the rise but with the implementation of the new National Broadband Network (NBN) it will only increase in popularity. Technological innovation, such as the NBN, only makes teleworking easier as it increases quick and seamless communication with the office when teleworking from home. Stephen Conroy, former Minister of Broadband and Communications, stated that, “the delivery of reliable high speed broadband to every Australian premise will potentially revolutionise how we will work”. But could this ease also come at a cost to the employee? 

According to a University of Melbourne study, employees may be more productive when teleworking but may overcompensate by working approximately three hours more than the traditional worker. So is a person choosing telework to reduce travel time, only to increase work hours? As the teleworking website suggests, there is also the worry of isolation, both social and professional. Support and continuous communication from management, workers and family are essential to overcome social isolation. However, will the company forget about including the teleworker, will you miss your promotion, or lose your networking connections? These all need to be considered. 

Companies are giving mixed opinions on this seamless integration between work, leisure and home-life. Yahoo and Google, who are at the forefront of technology assisting with telework, ironically disagree with employees working away from the office. As Google’s CFO Patrick Pichette minimises teleworkers in the company stating that the “magical moments” of eating, employee chatter and time with coworkers are lost. Opposing this view is Cisco Australia with approximately 90 percent of their global employee’s teleworking one or more days a week. “Our workers who work outside the office are consistently more engaged, more productive happier [and] have a higher sense of well being than traditional bricks and mortar workers”, says Tim Fawcett, Cisco’s general manager of government affairs and policy. Who wouldn’t want that? 

We believe that teleworking attitudes have been ingrained into our generation since we started school. In order to achieve what we wanted we had to be willing to work from home. In high school and primary school we had homework… Now, at university if we want desirable grades, a lot of time and effort need to be put in at home outside of the classroom. Prominent universities such as the University of Sydney, Charles Sturt University and Macquarie University, to name a few, offer and support telework in their institutions through online education; a person can complete their whole degree without setting foot in a classroom. With these attitudes and values entrenched in our everyday lives, it wouldn't be surprising if Generation Y would expect the opportunity to telework when they hit the workforce. 

This poses the question: is teleworking best suited to specific sectors or workplaces? Is teleworking suited to you? The best way to find out is to find our more by visiting telework.gov.au and gather your own opinions.

Hannah Anderson and Briana Tabone: Current students at the University of Sydney Business School.

No comments:

Post a Comment