Prime Minister Julia Gillard will commit today to enabling 12% of federal public servants to work from home by 2020 in a speech to launch National Telework week.
Gillard is delivering a speech via videolink at the Telework Congress at Melbourne University and will make the commitment in light of figures which show that at present only 4% of the public service work from home.
The Federal Government has already stated its aim is for 12% of the working population to utilise teleworking by 2020, claiming that teleworking enables higher workforce participation, especially for part-time, casual, older and disabled workers.
Research by Deloitte estimates telework will deliver an extra $3.2 billion a year to GDP by 2020-21 and the equivalent of an extra 25,000 full-time jobs.
"Harnessing the benefits of new technology and work patterns will be important for Australia if we are to embrace the opportunities of the Asian Century,'' Gillard will say.
''That's why the government is building the NBN and why we want to engage with employers and employees to inform them of the possibilities of telework."
Nareen Young, chief executive of the Diversity Council of Australia, told Women's Agenda sister site SmartCompany the Prime Minister's commitment to 12% teleworking was "an admirable aspirational goal".
"If 12% of your workforce is working flexibly by teleworking then surely there will be some other forms of flexibility in the workplace and flexibility will be normalised in the workplace," she says.
Young says she works from home some days of the week along with nearly everybody else in the DCA office as it enables her to be home when her kids get home from school.
She says teleworking "absolutely" allows employees to be more productive.
"People have more autonomy over their work environment and it reduces bullying claims and it says to employees that your employer trusts you," she says.
"We have never had a problem at DCA with getting the work done, in fact it is the opposite; people go over and above when they are working from home".
Young says businesses should embrace telework and other forms of flexible working to achieve substantial business benefits.
"There's plenty of research in Australia and overseas that says flexible working like telework provides significant benefits for employers and employees such as improvements to productivity and performance; employee engagement, health and job satisfaction; and attraction and retention of people talent – not to mention the environmental benefits of eliminating the commute to work," she says.
"It has certainly been my experience that people can work from home very productively with the appropriate technology."
Cara Waters is the editor of SmartCompany, a sister site of Women's Agenda.
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