Within a decade or so, another million Australians will telework from home, at least for part of the week, or operate as fly-in-fly-out workers, moving between interstate and offshore projects. But what is being done to prepare Australia for this impending trend and to reduce the risks it could pose to employers and employees alike?
Is Australia creating a more mobile workforce, or reducing labour mobility through out-dated state taxes and poor transport infrastructure planning? These are questions raised by former managing editor of the Business Review Weekly Tony Featherstone.
Featherstone says in his latest blog The Venture that Australian companies will begin to encourage teleworking to cut costs and boost productivity; and workers will embrace it for lifestyle reasons. “As super-fast internet becomes a reality, it will increasingly seem odd why so many people trudge back and forth to town each day for work, sometimes losing hours in the process and adding to city congestion and pollution, when the same work can be done from home in far less time,” he says.
But the lack of discussion around these topics means Australia might fail to keep up with the changing environment. The Government’s Australia in the Asian Century White Paper suggests that Australians will spend an increasing amount of time flying in and out of Asia, but Featherstone says progress on this front will be limited by Australia’s poor airports and airlines.
“We need more debate on what the workforce will look like by 2025 and some genuine policy to help get us there. We’ll be there before you know it, and by then it will be too late if Australia continues to talk rather than act on these big workforce trends.”