Should NZ move to remote working for good?

These industries are ready to embrace a new way of working

Should NZ move to remote working for good?

Two in five workers in New Zealand performed at least a portion of their work remotely at the height of the COVID-19 crisis, data from Statistics New Zealand revealed.

When the country was on Alert Levels 4 and 3, 42% of the working population continued their tasks from home. Meanwhile, less than a third worked in the office or other premises.

Employees who had the opportunity to work remotely on some days (and work on-site on other days) were included in both categories.

In contrast, 35% of people who were employed or who operated a business did not work during the same period.

READ MORE: Remote work: Are employees struggling to adapt?

The figures showed that the highest percentage of employees had shifted to remote work by April, when the government enforced the strictest lockdown measures.

The numbers began to shift once the measures eased, however. At Level 1, an average of four in five workers (83%) were back to working on-site.

“But many continued to do at least some work from home,” said Andrew Neal, labour market statistics manager at Statistics New Zealand.

During the second quarter – when New Zealand progressed from Level 4 down to Level 1 – 36% of the working population was operating from home. This translates to roughly a million employees.

READ MORE: Is remote work creating a culture of presenteeism?

In that period, the industries with the highest percentage of employees on a WFH status included:

  • Financial and insurance services (71%)
  • Information media and telecommunications (66%)
  • Professional, scientific, technical, administrative and support services (59%)
  • Rental, hiring and real estate services (58%)

Employees in the following industries, however, were least likely to work remotely:

  • Retail trade, accommodation and food services (15%)
  • Transport, postal and warehousing services (20%)
  • Manufacturing and electricity, gas, water and waste services (24%)
  • Health care and social assistance (24%)
  • Construction (26%)

“COVID-19 has shown workplaces, and their employees, that they can function from home,” said employment lawyer Scott Wilson of Duncan Cotterill in a recent interview with HRD.

“While many employees were keen to get back into the office and resume ‘normal’ life again, a number enjoyed the WFH experience. Many businesses are likely to move towards increased flexibility, where an employee can regularly work remotely,” he said.

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