The authoritative annual survey found Covid unleashed a “seismic shift” in how and where Australians worked and that this flexibility had shifted from a “nice to have” to a “must have” for companies that wanted to attract and retain workers.
Associate Professor Christhina Candido, from the Sustainable and Healthy Environments lab at the University of Melbourne, said the appetite for more flexible work existed before Covid, particularly among millennials, but she said employers could no longer think of it negatively.
She said a third of workers felt their productivity was the same when they worked from home, 29 per cent thought it was slightly worse and 13 per cent said it was much worse.
But HILDA director Mark Wooden said that wasn’t surprising given that there was little time to prepare for the shift to working from home.
“It might be a bonus for people living in McMansions who can avoid the stress of the daily commute,” he said.
“When it is forced, it can penalise people from less advantaged backgrounds.”
He said “proximity bias” had also become an issue.
“If working from home remains voluntary, some people will go to work to get ahead and others will miss out and there is a potential for all sorts of inequalities to arise,” he said.
“Will working from home stick? At this point we don’t know, but I doubt the number of workers in our CBDs will ever return to the levels they once were.”