In what almost sounds like a retread of studies from the 1970s when ‘teleworking’ was the answer to the oil shock, NBN Co sings the praises of fast broadband to improve our work/life balance.
Got really fast broadband? If you do, NBN Co says it “could” see shorter commute times, higher salaries, new employment doors opening and better lifestyle opportunities, all according to its new report.
While fast broadband isn’t the answer to world peace or the cure for cancer, NBN Co’s new report entitled “Connected Consumers” shows that “one in ten Australian surveyed would work from home more often if they had fast and reliable broadband”.
In NBN Co’s media release, this statement comes with not one but two asterisks, and further down the page you get the caveat that: “Your experience including the speeds actually achieved over the NBN depends on the technology over which services are delivered to your premises and some factors outside our control like your equipment quality, software, broadband plans and how your service provider designs its network. Your ability to work from home depends on external factors like your work’s IT policy and infrastructure.”
That said, the study says that “while three quarters of Australian workers surveyed believe the internet is important or vital to their job, half of those that have worked from home were frustrated with their current home internet connections.”
– Most Australian workers (full and part time) surveyed can’t imagine working without the internet with 74 per cent declaring that the internet is important or vital to their jobs. For people who have worked from home accessing online content, the importance is even higher with 93 percent claiming the internet is important or vital to their jobs (65 per cent consider it vital).
– However, Aussies surveyed who have worked from home accessing online content are frustrated with the quality of their home internet connections. Half (50 per cent) are frustrated with some aspect of their current home internet service, with many experiencing buffering when watching video and drop outs when making video calls.
– Nearly one third of people surveyed (29 per cent) who already work from home would do so more often if they had a faster, better quality internet connection. More than three quarters (76 per cent) of that group predict a need for faster and better quality internet in the future.
– One third (33 per cent) of Aussies surveyed have worked from home accessing online content. 39 per cent of those have a household income of more than $75,000 reflecting that “knowledge workers” tend to be more highly paid. More of them live in metropolitan areas (34 per cent versus 30 per cent in regional areas).
– Australians are excited to be able to work from home for the lifestyle and work benefits. Three of the most common benefits found in the survey responses were: spending more time with family/flexibility for parents; cutting the commute and saving on travel time/costs and accessing new jobs and work opportunities.
NBN Co quotes Stephen Greaves, national transport expert at The University of Sydney’s Business School who said: “Over the next few years we expect to see an increase in the amount of people working from home as Australians overcome their poor connection challenges and gain better access to fast and reliable broadband services through the NBN.
“Frustrated commuters who live in the suburbs and city outskirts stand to benefit most as they have the potential to significantly reduce the hours spent travelling to ‘knowledge based’ jobs traditionally located in CBDs. This type of work typically deals in the trade of information rather than physical products or labour, and can be more easily done online from the convenience of our home offices or smart working hubs.
“The benefit of teleworking will extend beyond those working from home as less congested roads and public transport systems will mean better travel times for all. For example, if you removed one in ten cars from the road today it could reduce the total commute time between Penrith and the Sydney CBD by up to 40 minutes a day,” Mr Greaves concluded.
NBN Co’s spokesperson, Andrew Sholl said:
“The NBN will open up new ways of working to suit our increasingly demanding lifestyles, allowing us greater flexibility and a better work/life balance.
“We’re already seeing evidence that people living in NBN-connected areas are replacing their unpredictable commute by using fast and reliable broadband services to work from home. For example, there are a number of small businesses and office workers making significant savings on travel and toll costs as they can connect with colleagues and clients around the world from the comfort of their own work space.”
“Today’s announcement continues the momentum of the NBN rollout with more than a quarter of a million premises already connected to the network around the country. The NBN will be available to every home and business in Australia by 2020.”