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Working from Home

Commission research

Background

The COVID-19 pandemic has led to large-scale and rapid changes in work practices, including a dramatic increase in the number of people working from home. The pandemic has demonstrated that many jobs can be effectively done — at least for some time — from home, but it remains unclear whether the changes to work practices instigated during the pandemic will persist in the longer term.

There can be benefits to both workers and firms of working from home, including: less time spent commuting; greater autonomy and flexibility; less spending on office space; and access to a wider pool of talent for recruitment. However, there are also potential costs, including: fewer opportunities for knowledge transfer, collaboration and innovation; and blurring of the lines between work and home.

Even if only a portion of the people who worked from home during the pandemic continue to do so, the effects for workers, firms and society will be substantial. A long-term increase in home-based work, is likely to affect the incomes and wellbeing of workers, as well having implications for many policy areas including urban planning, infrastructure and transport planning, occupational health and safety policy, and communications provision.

Objectives of the study

This research project will focus on what a potential long-term shift to more working from home means for Australian firms and workers, and for society more broadly. The project will examine:

  • the cost and benefits of working from home to firms and workers, and how joint decisions about the location of work are made
  • trends in home-based work — both pre-COVID-19 and during the pandemic — and analysis of the types and distribution of jobs that could feasibly be done from home in the future
  • the possible implications of a persistent increase in the number of jobs done from home.

Expected release date

Mid-2021

Contact

Matt Forbes 03 9653 2211