• Flexible working options are essential for Australian organisations to attract and retain talent.
  • Research shows that the way Australians connect with other people has changed, and that people are feeling settled and stable in their current working environments.
  • There is a lot of anxiety about a return to the office; 65% of full-time Australian workers say that Delta and other COVID-19 variants have made them more likely to consider other employers that allow remote work.

Over the last two years, our reliance on collaborative technologies to allow us to work from home during lockdown has indelibly changed how we feel about human connectedness. In a recent survey we conducted of 2000 Australian workers, we found that 71% of us feel just as connected over voice/video call, and 80% believe the way we connect has changed forever.

As borders reopen and ‘normality’ returns to our lives, it’s also pretty clear that many of us are rethinking our priorities, the jobs we are doing today, our careers and our work/life balance. That’s created a phenomenon around the world that has been coined the “Great Resignation” – a massive staff turnover rate that some parts of the world are already seeing.

However, I’m not sure we will see it playing out in Australia in any significant way – provided organisations offer permanent hybrid and flexible work arrangements for their people.

While 63% of Australians anticipate that in 2022 they will be returning back to the office to work, 58% who work hybrid or remotely during COVID would prefer to work from home. Most now don’t see why they need to travel into the office every day for work – when they can connect just as effectively with their colleagues from wherever they are working.

The good news is that business attitudes have changed. In a survey conducted earlier this year by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald of 50 of the nation’s largest companies, overwhelmingly these organisations will be permanently adopting hybrid working policies for office-based employees. Another survey of 130 Australian organisations found that 51% expect their workers will commute to the office for just three days a week, and 36% expect their staff will cluster their office days from Tuesday to Thursday (‘Bosses anticipate ‘long weekend’ trend to stay once Australians head back to the office’).

That support for flexible working is mirrored by the attitudes of the business decision makers in our survey and how enthusiastically they have embraced remote collaboration: 77% believe they can build personal relationships with co-workers without ever physically meeting them, 76% feel that connecting online through voice or video calls is as good as in-person for work-related tasks, and 74% that connecting online through voice or video calls is as good as in-person for building personal relationships with co-workers. In fact, 83% say that there is increased freedom to work from anywhere. They also firmly believe that workplace collaboration tools can make them feel professionally connected, and that video facilitates better personal relationships with co-workers.

However, it’s really important that we are making sure our people feel included and that they are on an equal footing as their colleagues in the office. Establishing “participation equity” is critical to maintaining a successful and productive hybrid workplace, and this is one area that has caused issues for remote workers during the pandemic. 52% of Australian full-time workers who worked hybridly or remotely during COVID felt more isolated or lonely at work, and of those people, 38% say that it has had an impact on their overall mental health, 35% that it has had an impact on how much enthusiasm they have for their job, and 31% on the connections with their co-workers.

So, while offering a flexible workplace will help you to compete successfully for talent in the marketplace and hold on to the people you have, it’s important that your workspaces and your unified communications and collaboration platforms allow your people to feel equally connected no matter where they are working.

For more information on the survey, which was part of a global RingCentral study, click here.

If you’d like more information about how RingCentral can enable your teams to work from anywhere, click here.

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