Survey Finds it’s Time to Reset Thinking

A survey of 2,000 Australian workers, led by Deloitte and Swinburne Edge and conducted by YouGov Australia, has shed light on workforce attitudes and how businesses need to adapt to attract and hold on to talented staff.

Over a two-week period in late January 2022, flexible location workers and onsite workers were surveyed about hybrid work, and their experiences of work during the pandemic.

Workforce composition:

  • Approximately 43% of the workforce comprises flexible location workers (as estimated by YouGov) – those whose work does not require them to be onsite and who have the option or opportunity to work remotely.
  • Approximately 57% of the working population comprises onsite workers – those whose work requires them to be onsite, at their employer’s workplace or a client’s site.

The survey, conducted in January 2022, found that:

  • Wellbeing and pay were the equal most important work benefits for both onsite and flexible location workers, highlighted by around 93% of respondents,
  • Work autonomy, team and organisation culture, leadership, and doing impactful work were also highly rated for all workers, but especially for flexible location workers, and
  • Flexible working – options for both where and when – was rated more highly by flexible location workers (around 80% for both where and when) than it was for onsite workers (when – 66%, where – 56%).

The survey authors found that over the past two years, traditional boundaries between work and life – such as the commute or weekly work routines – have faded for many.

They reported that a third of flexible location and onsite workers are working more hours since the pandemic, and over half are frequently working outside their standard hours to get their work done.

The survey was unable to determine whether employers were fully aware of the extra hours being worked, which Deloitte claims, raises “significant compliance challenges and questions about employee engagement and health and safety obligations”.

The report makes the point that the Fair Work System has not caught up with these new patterns of work and therefore is “not effectively protecting flexible location workers’ pay or their choices while employers are left exposed to penalties for non-compliance as more and more workers expect and will self-direct non-standard working hours that suit them”.

With many workers reporting burnout following the disruption of COVID, coupled with uncertainty, ill health and changed working arrangements, Deloitte says, “We need to reset our idea of normal work to be flexible work. We need to restore worker wellbeing and bring workers back from the brink of burnout. Organisations need to reframe their flexibility value proposition to reflect an understanding of what’s important”.

You can download the full report here.

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