Extended-form Case Study

Working from home during COVID-19: an insight from Australia

Published on March 30, 2021   19 min

Other Talks in the Series: Future Work Now

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Hi everybody, my name's John Hopkins. I am a Senior Lecturer, an Innovation Fellow from Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. It's my pleasure to join you today to discuss the findings from a research project that I was involved in, in April 2020 entitled "Working from Home during COVID-19 an Insight from Australia". This is part of the future work now series for Henry Stewart talks.
I'm also the founder of WorkFlex, an Australian-based organization, which provides a range of online training and consulting solutions designed to help remote workers thrive in the new normal.
I'll start by telling you a little bit about my background and how I became interested in this topic, including examples of some of the previous research projects I've been involved in. Then we'll move on to the survey results themselves and we'll finish things off with some final thoughts and implications for this research.
So my interest in the field of remote working and flexible working first started in 2014. My background is actually researcher in supply chain management, and the first project I was involved in was looking at ways in which we might reduce traffic congestion. Not just specifically looking at Melbourne, but we looked at cities around the world, including London, New York, and Singapore, and we wanted to see what they were doing to try and reduce traffic congestion in those cities. What we found was that although cities were taking very much a cure approach to traffic congestion rather than a prevention approach. They were accepting the existence of traffic congestion and introducing mechanisms to try and reduce it, things like congestion charges or expensive taxes for road users. We were really interested in looking at preventing traffic congestion in the first place. That led us to look at what actually causes traffic congestion, and the main contributor to traffic congestion is the fact that the majority of workers still follow that traditional Monday to Friday, nine to five work routine. So we wanted to look into that and the history behind it, why we still do it and actually goes back over a 100 years. So the reason why we work these traditional hours is linked to a number of things including daylight hours and religion, more specifically around the tools of our labor. So people travel to places because that's where the tools where that they need to conduct their work, whether that be production line of the Model T-Ford or more recently, that could include something like a photocopier or a PC. Because those things were so expensive, but we didn't have them in our homes, so we had to travel to an office where they had them in order to do our work, but of course, fast-forward to the 21st century, and we have a lot of those tools in our homes now, and a lot of the tools that we use to do our job reside around a computer or a tablet. Quite often those devices are with us in our pocket or in our web bugs. So why are we still following those traditional Monday to Friday, nine-to-five work patterns if we're traveling to an office through rush hour traffic to sit in front of a computer all day. We wanted to really dig deeper into that topic and find out why that's happening. We've conducted a number of research projects since then, we've run surveys, we've conducted lots of interviews and focus groups, and we've got an understanding of why these kind of things happened and the habits that are behind them.

Working from home during COVID-19: an insight from Australia

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