Remote work to be the new normal for Aussie businesses

- May 18, 2020 4 MIN READ
  • 47 per cent  of small business owners would work remotely more often if they could,

  • 45 per cent  believe remote working allows them to ‘unlock’ more free time,

  • 90% of small business owners in WA already worked remotely one or two days a week, followed by NSW (84%), QLD (82%), VIC (60%) ACT, NT and TAS (50%) combined.

  • Metro-based small business owners would save $10.50 a day by not commuting, and $7.50 for non-metro.

  • In non-metro areas, 82 per cent  of business owners work from home at least one or two days a week compared to 75 per cent of metro businesses.

Almost half of Australia’s small businesses will make remote work their new ‘normal’ according to research by Zoho.

Zoho’s Remote Working Revolution Report found the pandemic has not only accelerated the uptake of remote work but increased Australia’s small businesses’ adoption of cloud technologies. The report suggests more than one million small businesses are forecast to continue operating remotely after COVID-19 restrictions lift.

Prior to COVID-19 almost one-third of the nation’s small business owners preferred working remotely however this number is expected to increase dramatically following the recent COVID-19 lockdowns.

“The nature of work will change forever as the number of businesses deciding to work remotely and from home will skyrocket, even after lockdowns and social distancing restrictions are lifted,” said Vijay Sundaram, Zoho Chief Strategy Officer.

“If there’s one thing business owners and workers are understanding in the wake of COVID-19, it’s that a job is something you do rather than somewhere you go.

“Digital transformation of work has traditionally been the domain of big business, but in recent months technology has helped hundreds of thousands of small businesses pivot their operations and workforce. For example, we recently launched Remotely — a set of 11 free apps to help businesses operate remotely — and the uptake was significant, with 15,000 new companies across the world signing up in the first few weeks alone!

Sundaram says the pandemic has become an unwitting global laboratory for models of work that could have otherwise taken decades to unfold.

“This will upturn norms that have been accepted for generations. Relentless innovation in affordable technology will put remote work within the reach of every company, lowering costs and creating new agility.

He predicts employee results, rather than physical presence or close monitoring, will become the new performance measures, as employers change traditional mindsets. Sundaram also predicts business travel, events and meetings will all reduce significantly both due to employee reluctance and from the realisation that their value might have been overestimated.

“The benefits of remote work are not just for the short-term, but the long-term too,” Sundaram insists.

Check out a snapshot of the findings

Remote work ‘unlocks’ new potential

From operational efficiencies to cost savings, the benefits of remote work are broad, with small business owners increasingly looking to implement it into their business models.

Regional Australia better prepared for remote work

Digital transformation has long been considered a necessity for regional businesses that don’t operate in close proximity to the broad customer bases that metro businesses enjoy.

Battle of the states

Its existing uptake varies by state, too, with small business owners in Western Australia almost twice as likely to work remotely than those in ACT, the Northern Territory or Tasmania.

Prominent industries

While business in the arts, tech and education industries are the most savvy when it comes to remote work, it is forecast to boom in industries such as construction and transport, too.

Money in the bank

Not only can remote work improve operational efficiencies and provide a more appealing model for employees, there are also significant cost savings to be had too. In a post-COVID world when budgets will likely be under increased scrutiny, cost savings may be a particularly important consideration.

The challenges

While the majority of businesses recognise the advantages that remote working provides, for some, issues such as employee management, connectivity and security make the transition to flexible work locations a challenge. This is especially so for non-metro businesses (66%) compared to their metro counterparts (48%).

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