Job advertisements offering temporary and permanent work from home (WFH) arrangements in Australia increased by 95% from March to December last year, in a sign the practice may be here to stay.
Research undertaken by Purpose Bureau, an Australian ESG insights firm, used a proprietary algorithm that tracked the online hiring activity of every business in Australia to reach its insights.
While WFH arrangements have been available in some sectors for years, COVID-19 lockdowns that forced almost all knowledge worker industries out of the office have accelerated its rise from a niche policy to a crucial employment offering, Purpose Bureau said.
The company’s researchers analysed Australian online hiring activity between March 1 and December 31, 2021 to record the meteoric rise in permanent WFH job listings.
Most notably, the research revealed younger companies that had launched within the past two years were 41% more likely to broadcast WFH ads compared with more mature firms, defined as those operating for five years or longer.
Nick Kamper, chief executive of Purpose Bureau, said newer companies were leading on workplace trends that would only grow over the next few years.
“Younger firms are tomorrow’s firms. In a year or two years’ time, as those firms mature, if we see the same trend, we’re going to see them do it even more,” Kamper said.
This could have a wider impact on the economy, including for rents and prices for commercial leases, he said.
Companies with above-average ratings from online employee reviews were almost three times as likely to offer WFH arrangements compared to those with a low rating.
Professional services, administrative and support services, and information media and telecommunications had the highest proportion of WFH ads, the research found.
Kamper said the research reflected a change in working culture that was a net benefit for both employers and employees.
“As the WFH debate carries out across workplaces, boardrooms and BBQs, this research shows that WFH arrangements are being now accepted as a vital part of employment offering,” Kamper said.
He said the findings showed that the proportion of job ads that included a WFH provision remained elevated — even after the harshest restrictions were lifted in NSW and Victoria.
“While every workplace is different and there’s clearly benefits to in-person work for certain roles, our data suggests businesses need to address the possibility to WFH to stay in the race for top talent,” he said.
Jonathan Jeffries, director at startup growth and talent firm Think and Grow, which manages recruitment for Australian tech companies and startups including Canva, Airtasker and VC firm Blackbird, told Business Insider Australia that its slate of companies had seen a wholesale transformation around work from home policies in the past two years.
“Across the board we’re seeing Australia’s leading companies like Atlassian and Canva changing tact with their approach to office structures,” Jeffries said.
Last year Canva and Atlassian both famously instituted workplace policies that require employees to show up to the office in-person fewer than eight times a year, with Atlassian also announcing a ‘work from anywhere’ policy that lets employees log in from anywhere in the country.
Jeffries said this had now reached a point where, particularly in “our world in technology and specifically fast growth tech,” flexible work policies had become a key factor in attracting top talent.
“Talent is asking for more money and a flexible location, particularly in Australia where the loss of international talent has created a skills shortage,” he said.
“Many firms were early adopters and were global locations from day one; giving them a better chance in securing talent.”
Dylan Murray, a project manager at Block Earner, a decentralised finance (DeFi) startup set to launch this year, said a major appeal of joining the company in 2021 after several years at a global legacy infrastructure firm was its commitment to flexible work.
Particularly for highly skilled workers with in-demand skills, it was fast becoming a defining factor in selecting a new role.
He told Business Insider Australia the ability to work remotely shaped his job search last year, where he observed many legacy organisations continuing to advertise strict in-person office policies, even following Australia’s periods of lockdown in 2020 and 2021.
“Most blockchain companies are offering really flexible working conditions,” Murray said.
“That’s obviously a practical benefit, as well as the kind of real innovation that’s going on at the moment.”
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