A new study from UNSW Canberra and CQUniversity found that working from home has enabled employees to have more autonomy over their work, be more productive, and gave them more time with their family. 

The study, partnered with the Community and Public Sector Union (CPSU), also showed that almost two-thirds of managers have stated that they’ll be more supportive of employees working from home in the future.

UNSW Canberra academic Dr Sue Williamson said this is a major finding as previous research conducted in this area had found a lot of managerial resistance to working from home arrangements.

“The current COVID-19 pandemic forced the majority of organisations to remote working, including agencies from the Australian Public Service. This was a major change for these Departments, many of which did not have a strong working from home culture, so it is encouraging that there now seems to be this shift in attitude,” she said.

CQU Associate Professor Linda Colley said that overall the research shows that working from home is good for individuals, families and organisations.

“Post-pandemic, APS organisations would do well to continue enabling employees to work from home,” she said.

Employees, however, are still reporting some resistance from managers and their organisations which points to a disconnection between the two.

The study surveyed almost 6,000 APS employees about how they had worked from home during the current pandemic.

As restrictions ease depending on the current state of the pandemic across the country, some agencies have begun to bring back employees into the office.

“Employees want to continue to work from home. Some managers and organisations are still stuck in a pre-pandemic mindset, however, and are reluctant to let them do so. We encourage organisations to continue embracing this form of flexible working,” Dr Williamson said.

CPSU National Secretary Mellissa Donnelly said that the pandemic had showed the public sector had been very effective working from home, this research will hopefully inform future policy in a post pandemic world. 

“Working from home works. The success of the last few months shows that the APS should trust its workers. In fact this research shows that people can be more productive and management welcomes it.”

The full report ‘Working during the Pandemic: From Resistance to Revolution' will be available in September.