Dell Technologies has undertaken research into Australian employee readiness to work remotely long-term. In the inaugural Remote Work Readiness Index, it was found that more than eight in 10 (84%) employees in Australia felt they were prepared for long-term remote work but were concerned about sustaining strong connections with colleagues.
The survey of more than 7000 working professionals aged 18 years and above from the Asia-Pacific and Japan (APJ), of which 1024 were from Australia, captured data on employees’ readiness for long-term remote work and their views on the factors important for its success.
The study revealed a stable internet connection was the most significant concern for employees, with 38% citing it as a top worry should remote work arrangements continue long-term. Employees also felt that employers could provide more resources for productivity to support them.
Only about four in 10 (43%) felt their employers were fully supportive of long-term remote work. When it came to technology resources, just over half (53%) felt their employer was doing everything they could to support effective remote working. Additionally, only 40% felt their employer was doing everything they could to provide them with the HR support needed to successfully work remotely.
“Employees had to quickly pivot to remote working and the short-fix solutions put in place, both by employees and employers, were okay in the short term. It’s not surprising to see concerns raised about long-term remote working arrangements,” said Angela Fox, senior vice-president and managing director at Dell Technologies A/NZ.
“The good news is employees are ready to continue to work remotely and employers are working to move from the initial ‘do it light’ strategy to a more comprehensive ‘do it right’ strategy that will provide greater HR and IT support to their team members.”
According to the research, employers have an ongoing task ahead to understand the challenges employees continue to face, and to provide the necessary resources for successful long-term remote work.
In terms of technology resources, surveyed employees had faced the greatest challenge in accessing stable internet to remain connected to the network. They were also hindered by the use of personal productivity tools. Employees also wanted access to internal company resources. As a result, employees said they wanted employers to provide productivity equipment or tools (40%) and ensure they had access to internal company resources (35%). Statistics were:
Australian employees’ top technology challenges:
1. Stability of remote network, including Internet bandwidth (30%)
2. Use of personal productivity equipment or tools for work (27%)
3. Access to internal company resources (26%)
APJ employees’ top technology challenges:
1. Stability of remote network, including Internet bandwidth (31%)
2. Access to internal company resources (29%)
3. Use of personal productivity equipment or tools for work (28%)
For HR support, both Australian and APJ employees cited the top challenge as the lack of in-person communication. Other significant challenges were gaps in areas such as team engagement initiatives, learning and development sessions, including training for virtual tools, and best practice training for remote working.
Australian employees’ top HR challenges:
1. Lack of in-person communication (41%)
2. Lack of team engagement initiatives (39%)
3. Lack of or insufficient learning and development sessions, including training for virtual tools (32%)
Percentages for APJ were identical except 38% listing a lack of or insufficient best practice training for remote working, and outdated policies and guidelines for remote work (38%)
To successfully manage long-term remote work, one-third (32%) of the employees surveyed want best practice training for remote working, learning and development sessions (32%) and team engagement initiatives (38%).
“Today, work is no longer a place we go to, but an activity we undertake. This outcome focused shift has many benefits for work life balance and productivity, as long as your remote workforce is supported and enabled with the right tools to do their work securely from any location,” Fox said.
Other key findings across age segments and organisational sizes were:
- Remote work is not new to employees in Australia. As many as 67% of Australian employees had worked remotely before lockdown. A total of 70% of Gen Z employees, aged between 18 and 23 years old, had worked remotely before lockdown.
- In Australia, the most important factor for remote working is the stability of remote networks (38%). This factor is particularly critical to those in large organisations with more than 1000 employees, where 42% see this as the number one factor.
- Gen Zs also saw access to internal company resources (35%) as a key technology obstacle. The same age group also cared the least about IT security of their remote network and devices (15%).
- In Australia, the lack of in person communication was felt across all age groups, but was especially prevalent in Gen Z with 45% viewing it as their top HR challenge.
- In APJ, the most significant HR challenge felt by Baby Boomers was the lack of in-person communication, with 35% viewing it as their top challenge.