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Australians Seek to Embrace Remote Work in the Post-COVID Era

Australians Seek to Embrace Remote Work in the Post-COVID Era

The latest Taking The Pulse of the Nation survey, led by the Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research at the University of Melbourne, reveals that nearly 70% of Australians who have been working from home due to the COVID-19 pandemic express a desire to continue doing so. This survey, conducted from September 14 to 18, provides valuable insights into the evolving work patterns and attitudes of Australians during these challenging times.

Key Findings:
1. Preference for Remote Work:

The survey found that among those employed, half of Australians are primarily working from home. This figure is higher in Victoria, with 59%, compared to 47% in the rest of the country. The desire for remote work is particularly strong among the 25-34 age group, with a majority opting to work from home.

2. Gender Disparity:

More men are working remotely compared to women, and it’s most pronounced among younger employees. Approximately 55% of individuals aged 18-24 continue to go to work, while 45% are working from home.

3. Upskilling:

A notable outcome is that a third of Australians are looking to upskill in response to the pandemic. Interestingly, men are more likely to pursue upskilling to retain their current jobs, while women are focused on acquiring new job opportunities.

4. Impact on Young Workers:

The data underscores the significant impact on young Australians’ working lives. Around one in five Australians aged 18-24 faced job losses during the initial months of the pandemic. Although employment rates have improved outside of Victoria, disparities persist between younger and older Australians. In Victoria, the return to work has been slower for young Victorians compared to their older counterparts.

5. Gender Disparities Among Young Workers:

Young women have experienced greater employment challenges than young men. In April, the employment rate for young women dropped to 44%, compared to 56% for young men. While both genders have seen employment rate improvements since then, the recovery has been swifter for young men.

6. Mental Health Concerns:

A concerning trend is the surge in mental distress among young people, with 23% reporting high levels of distress in the last six months. This is more than twice the rate observed before the pandemic.

Professor Guay Lim, the lead author of the survey report, highlights the potential transformation of work attitudes due to the pandemic. Remote work becoming a part of the “new normal” could have profound implications for infrastructure and policies.

Dr. Jan Kabátek, author of the research, emphasizes the challenges faced by young workers, particularly in industries most affected by lockdowns and those with casual contracts. The study calls for long-term solutions to support casual contract workers, as immediate measures like JobSeeker provided only temporary relief.

In summary, the survey portrays a dynamic and evolving Australian workforce that seeks flexibility, up skilling opportunities, and support, especially for young workers facing economic and mental health challenges during the ongoing pandemic.

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