DocuSign released research today titled "The Rise of the Home Enterprise: Lessons from Australia’s Office Workers”, outlining how COVID-19 has changed attitudes toward the future of work and what businesses can do to meet employees' newfound expectations and needs.
The research found a resounding positive opinion that remote work is the future norm and now is the time for their employers to envisage a better way of working. 80% of respondents believe the COVID-19 lockdown period shows working from home is possible for a majority of jobs. 85% say new styles of working have a positive impact on business operations. 71% would use this period to redefine how they work in the future.
Yet, despite Australian office workers seeing a positive, the research also found only 20% of respondents strongly agreed their employers were actually prepared for a new way of working.
“The scale and immediacy of change created by COVID-19 is disrupting the very idea of how work is done in Australia,” said Brad Newton, Vice President & General Manager, DocuSign Asia Pacific.
“This provides businesses with the opportunity to enable their employees to return to a better way of working, rather than the way they worked before. That means several things. Firstly, understanding that every employee has unique circumstances that impact their roles differently, secondly, adopting digital and cloud solutions to enable flexible, paperless, remote working and thirdly, defining the policies and processes of work in partnership with your staff – not mandating them.”
DocuSign recommends Australian employers investigate these options:
- Evaluate the necessity of your traditional office and the equipment it provides. Australian office workers miss having access to office equipment (44%) more than having a dedicated space of their own to work in (34%). And, as more digital tools become available to enable paperless remote working, the office may become the last refuge of printers, scanners, and other similar technology. Considered alongside the finding that Australian office workers are significantly more affected by missing their colleagues in terms of team camaraderie or social life, businesses must decide the role an office will play going forward. If it's just a safe haven for clunky technologies, it may be time to cut the cord and move on to a digital-first, flexible working model that ditches the office and prioritises alternate ways to work together.
- Foster a culture of trust supporting the idea employees don’t need to be in the office to complete their work. When asked what working habits they wanted to continue post-COVID-19 top of the list is the ability to work from home when required, alongside strong trust in employees to complete work remotely (44%). Business leaders must establish a culture that trusts employees to consistently complete their work, despite not being in the office or working standard daytime hours.
- Provide engaging tools that empower productivity from home. Despite 80% of Australian office workers saying that they are working as hard, or harder, at home than they would in the office, they are not necessarily being more productive. 49% say they are more productive working from home, while one in six workers (17%) strongly disagree. To ensure employees remain productive businesses must focus on enabling smarter working practices and tools that foster higher engagement – such as interactive teams platforms like Slack or Microsoft Teams – as well as provide educational resources for employees to understand how to use them.
When asked what office workers want to take with them into the post-COVID-19 world the top responses were:
- The ability to work from home when required (61%)
- Ability to define flexible working hours (50%)
- Trust in employees to complete work, even if you’re not in the office (44%)
“The traditional assumptions we have of how we work - commuting to an office, sitting at an assigned desk, using wired, corporate-owned technology, inflexible hours and roles - have been upended. Now that employees have seen there is another way, they have been empowered to expect more from our organisations. Now is the time to approach work in a new, mobile, flexible way,” Newton said.