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Half of Australia is working from home, but experts warn it’s not for everyone

10:30AM | Tuesday, 22 October

Half of Australia’s working population are now identified as ‘digital workers’, using the internet to work from home or on the go, with new research finding it actually enhances the productivity of employees through increased flexibility.   Research released this morning from the Australian Communications and Media Authority found as of May this year there were 5.6 million adults who used the internet to work away from the office outside ‘working hours’, or to work from home rather than coming into the office.   At the time of the research, 5.6 million people composed 51% of the total number of employed Australians.   The percentage increased significantly when considering workers with a university qualification, with 70% saying they’d worked from home.   The study, which also had a focus on SMEs, found 39% of employers with less than 20 staff allowed their employees to work from home at least one day a week.   Businesses with 20 to 199 employees were more likely than small business to allow employees to work from home, with the percentage increasing to 55%.   The ACMA communications analysis manager Joseph Di Gregorio told SmartCompany it’s likely more and more people will become digital workers.   “Putting it into context, Australians are doing more online, be it commerce, entertainment or interacting with businesses and government, so working is just becoming part of that story,” he says.   “It’s a broader picture with regards to the digital economy, so I wouldn’t be surprised if the numbers do increase. The internet is no longer on the periphery; it’s a core part of everyday life.”   Di Gregorio says the majority of digital workers at the moment come from industries where employees have long needed to be mobile.   “If you look at the nature of the industries where this is most popular, it’s communications and property and business services sectors, so having a lot of people on the go is a natural part of those work environments,” he says.   “If you remove the internet, they would probably be a very mobile group of people anyway, so the internet in many ways is actually just keeping them in touch with their resources and improving their productivity.”   The study of 2400 households and 1500 SMEs found the highest number of digital workers were from capital cities, aged 35 to 44, were male, employed full-time and had a university qualification.   Almost three million people worked away from the office at least two days a week and 4.6 million worked from home when outside of the office.   The survey found the major benefits of working from home were increased flexibility (55%) and more opportunities to get work done (30%), and 53% of digital workers identified no negatives of working from home. Of those who did perceive some negatives, 24% said reduced access to communication services was an issue and 20% found there was reduced access to colleagues.   The chief executive of the Victorian branch of the Australian Institute of Management, Tony Gleeson, told SmartCompany working away from the office isn’t suited to everyone.   “With digital workers you must be clear with what the objectives are and have some sort of way for them to connect with business with where they’re up to, like a database,” he says.   “Don’t expect them to work a standard 9am to 5pm day. In my experience they actually end up working longer hours and produce better quality work, but it isn’t for everyone.”   He says working from home is best suited to people who are “well-structured”.   “They should also be in roles with very clear deliverables, for example if a report needs to be created by a set time and dates,” he says.   “It can be very lonely, so some form of instant messaging support helps… it can lead to cultural issues after a while and I don’t think you can do it for a long period of time.”   Gleeson says people who are working in the physical office end up assuming those working from home are slacking off, when this is rarely the case, and they end up missing out on the “office politics”.   “The third thing is the workers can be forgotten about after a period of time. The managers don’t get to know their personality and don’t know how far they can be stretched. From my experience, you end up being pigeon-holed into a certain kind of work.”

Uni students all abuzz over new app

3:04AM | Thursday, 14 March

A new app is designed to help university students manage day-to-day tasks while keeping Facebook friends and university colleagues separate.

THE NEWS WRAP: Financial markets hope for decisive victory either way in US election

3:04AM | Monday, 11 March

Voting is underway in the US presidential election, with the race considered too close to call, although most polls point in the direction of a narrow victory for incumbent Barack Obama.

New iPhone app offers co-founders “couple counselling”

7:37AM | Thursday, 5 July

A new iPhone app called Cofounderly offers co-founders “couple counselling” for their start-up, joining a growing list of platforms designed to help entrepreneurs match up.

Adjust your chat settings in Gmail

3:33AM | Tuesday, 13 March

It may have been taken over by Facebook chat but Gmail is still a pretty useful IM manager. And if you’re using it, you should be aware of how to adjust the settings.

Atlassian acquires US start-up HipChat

3:28AM | Thursday, 8 March

Australian software giant Atlassian has acquired US-based instant messaging network HipChat for an undisclosed sum, with plans to incorporate HipChat into its ever-increasing portfolio.

Aussie start-up Kondoot plans global assault with $10 million IPO

3:59PM | Thursday, 1 March

Australian-founded live video network Kondoot has unveiled an ambitious plan to raise $10 million through an initial public offering, after raising $3.2 million in a funding round led by US investors.

Cofounda launch aims to link entrepreneurs globally

2:00AM | Monday, 13 February

A new smartphone app titled Cofounda aims to change the way entrepreneurs connect with each other locally and globally, inspired by the concept of co-founder speed dating events.

How can I best connect my sales force with the office?

3:42AM | Friday, 15 March

As a new business, if you have staff that work from home or need to go on the road, you might get them to use their own home PC or Mac, smartphones or tablets to keep initial costs down.

Microsoft launches cloud-based Office 365

6:17AM | Wednesday, 29 June

Software giant Microsoft has launched its Office 365 product, claiming the new cloud-based office suite will help small firms compete with larger companies.

Top 10 ways to use the cloud

4:20PM | Saturday, 28 April

No doubt there were countless entrepreneurs glued to their computer screens this week when Apple chief executive Steve Jobs took to the stage to announce new software for the iPhone, iPad and Mac platforms.

Dell data breach prompts cyber crime warning

4:33AM | Friday, 8 April

An IT security expert says that small businesses need to be aware of five key areas to protect their data, following the revelation that hackers stole the personal information of thousands of Dell customers.

The top 10 start-up billionaires

3:53PM | Sunday, 13 March

The world’s major economies may have struggled to get back to pre-GFC growth levels last year, but the world’s wealthiest people appear to have been nicely insulated.

Social media usage differs by gender

2:31AM | Friday, 18 February

A new survey reveals that men prefer instant messaging to communicate with colleagues and customers away from the workplace while women gravitate towards social media.

THE NEWS WRAP: Facebook launches new messaging service

12:25PM | Sunday, 5 December

The value of Australian merger and acquisitions activity is due to hit heights not seen since 2007, following a series of deals worth $17 billion.

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