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Is Australia behind the rest of the world? We’d like to think not and of course it depends on how you measure it. By certain metrics we can be less progressive than other regions. Take for instance this recent Australian Financial Review article citing LinkedIn data that, “less than half as many jobs advertised in Australia can be performed remotely compared to the rest of the world.” Why is it that globally there are double as many advertised opportunities for fully remote candidates? 

Employee trust

We might seem like a very egalitarian nation but Australian businesses don’t have a great track record of trusting their employees. As demonstrated by the fact that Aussie employers rank number one in the world in using technology to monitor their staff. This is in spite of the known benefits for employee wellbeing, performance and job satisfaction if they feel their employer trusts them to do their work. 

Of course, companies need to keep track of how their employees are performing but businesses need to rethink how they go about this and embrace the benefits of the hybrid work future. 

There is data indicating that candidates tend to significantly preference applying for jobs that can be done remotely. By not being competitively flexible many Australian companies could be missing out on talent amid the current skills shortage.

There are Australian companies ahead of the curve, for instance the technology giant Atlassian. Atlassian futurist Dom Price told AFR “nearly half of the technology company’s new hires in the first half of this year were working remotely. In team surveys, 75 per cent of employees gave the company’s work-from-anywhere approach a rating of at least eight out of 10.” A very high employee approval rating for this approach.

Systemic Change

Superior working from home opportunities are often mentioned by candidates as a major factor in turning down a job opportunity. Companies who want to attract the best and brightest are going to need to rethink and restructure their working methods.

Adapting to a “remote first” business (one that makes working remotely the primary option) is made smoother with these important steps:

1. Up-to-date technology.

Make sure your technology is up-to-date and runs efficiently. Sluggish and/or glitchy tech is not only super frustrating for staff but it also means that productivity levels go down. Getting the best out of your workers requires that you take the time and spend the money on modern technology alongside adequate training for employees.

2. Culture still matters

Having less face-to-face interactions can lead to employees feeling at a disconnect from company values and culture. Ensure that you organise regular in-person get togethers such as having a monthly planning day, where everyone can brainstorm and also socialise over lunch. It’s important to frequently check-in with employees to find what motivates and matters to them.

3. Excellent communication

To get the best results from your staff, you need to clearly outline what your expectations and achievement metrics are. Some roles have less measurable results than others but you can still outline goals with employees so they’re clear on what they’re working towards. Regular communication (such as a weekly check-in) is an important aspect of ensuring employee wellbeing and productivity levels.

4. Flexible hours

Allowing employees to do their work remotely requires a significant amount of employer trust. Successfully adapting to a remote-first company also requires you to recognise that the traditional 9-5 working hours may no longer be relevant for all of your staff. Offering staff flexible working hours (within reason) can be a helpful motivator as they have the autonomy to balance their job alongside their other life commitments. Establishing performance measures allows you to monitor that employees are keeping up with their work and achieving in the role.