Article published by INDAILY — 29 August 2023
The recent announcement of an Australian public service enterprise agreement that could grant federal employees unrestricted work-from-home privileges has ignited concerns about the potential negative impacts of flexible working arrangements.
While such arrangements can have benefits for both employers and employees, with an increasing number of workers opting for remote work, the ripple effect across our economy needs to be understood and addressed.
If work-from-home arrangements are uncapped, once-bustling CBDs will suffer from a reduced daily influx of workers. Small businesses that provide the morning coffee fix, offer retail therapy or nourishment during lunch and support post-work social gatherings, will not have the foot traffic and custom to survive.
Flexible working arrangements are now firmly entrenched in business across the globe. The pandemic accelerated the trend, and it is here to stay. Employees seeking better work-life balance and employers eager to engage in a competitive labour market have met somewhere in the middle to cement this change.
The arrangements play a positive role in improving female participation in the workplace, with nearly 70% of women acting as the main caregiver in the family needing flexibility in order to balance home life and employment.
When it comes to flexible working arrangements, working from home is the most basic of measures. While it may actually reduce some costs for business, the trade-off of an empty office can be a struggle to build culture, the mental health of employees and, in some cases, reduced productivity. In fact, a study just conducted by Stanford’s Institute for Economic Policy and Research, reports a 10%-20% decrease in productivity for fully remote workers.
For the broader business ecosystems in the CBD or major metropolitan areas, the absence of workers can be devastating, and empty shopfronts are already a testament to that.
So, what are the alternatives to working from home to create a flexible workplace offering? Employers should explore a multifaceted approach to flexibility, creating work environments that foster collaboration, creativity, friendships and productivity.
To read the South Australian Business Chamber’s Chief Executive Officer, Andrew Kay’s full comments on creating a ‘welcoming workplace’ for alternative flexibility, read INDAILY’s full article here.