Australia’s office workers have long benefited from a wider acceptance of flexible working arrangements. Prior to Covid-19, 60% were already afforded the opportunity to work from home on occasion, compared to 49% of Europeans. Owing to long commutes - it takes an average of 70 minutes to get into Sydney - and an ongoing mission to cut overheads, organisations have been actively encouraging employees to adopt hybrid working for some time.

With this in-mind, ‘Rethinking Workplace: Australia’ offers interesting insight into how more prevalent home working may impact professionals outside of a pandemic. Exploring the most pressing wants and needs of Australian office workers, in comparison to their European counterparts, the report draws on data from 6,100 survey participants – painting a clearer picture of workplace trends across the globe.

81% of the Australian workforce undertake more than their contracted hours.
Tweet this

The ongoing pressures of ‘worklife’ overlap

Australian office workers have distinctly mixed feelings when it comes to their professional fulfilment. While 41% report a feeling of meeting their full potential, over a third feel ambivalent about their work. Regular overtime is common (81% are putting in more than their contracted hours versus 71% across Europe) and bullying and harassment are perceived much bigger problems than elsewhere.

One particularly interesting finding is that 61% of Australians admitted their work and home lives overlapped too far and they were struggling to ‘switch off’ after the working day is done. This is exceptionally high compared to a European average of 14% (pre-Covid). What’s more, 72% believed – given the choice between working on-site or off-site – that they were still most productive in the office.

What workers want

Australia’s offices are predominantly (68%) open-plan and this is the preferred way of working. But, for nearly a third of the office working population, noise is a big concern. While being conducive for collaborative work, clearly the current set-up does not promote adequate time and space to conduct deep work.

In fact, 72% acknowledged that noise has a direct impact on their performance and 30% specifically call out the need for quiet space, when workloads are high.

Australians want and need a place of work. They say, that’s where they do their best work. While also recognising the limitations of conventional open-plan configurations for tasks requiring uninterrupted focus.

So, by ‘rethinking workplace’, businesses stand to gain a lot. Through zoning and other interventions that support more focused work, employers could enhance productivity by a long way. Especially as people already feel they are being their ‘best selves’ in that environment. With surroundings purposely designed for activity-based working, employers could help forge a happier and, thereby, more productive workforce.

What workers need

With so much overtime being undertaken and such high numbers reportedly struggling to switch-off, it is perhaps unsurprising that, workers felt, wellbeing should be their employer’s number one priority. Nearly half say organisations are not doing enough in this area.

Encompassing mental health and all aspects of the physical and emotional environment, wellbeing is far broader than many businesses recognise.
Tweet this

Take, for example, the fact that 54% of the surveyed population suffer from asthma and/or allergies and 31% are most concerned about indoor air quality.

Moving forward, and particularly in light of recent events, filtration systems will surely become a focus for specifiers. Sustainability concerns will also be ever present but more front of mind with end-users too. Over a third of Australians say environmental matters should be higher on the organisational agenda and this is likely to play out in design preferences. A sore point for the 41% that said their current workplace lacked aesthetic appeal.

So, as Australian businesses consider, with the rest of the world, how the office should take shape in a post-Pandemic world, the ‘Rethinking Workplace’ series offers invaluable insights into end-users’ wants and needs – then (pre-Pandemic) and now (amid the public health crisis).

Find out how Australia benchmarks against Europe by downloading the ‘Australian Overview Report’. 

*Please note: this first wave of Australian research was carried out before the global Covid-19 pandemic. We are, however, already in the process of researching the impact the pandemic is having on workplace trends across the world. Keep up to date with the latest developments on our ‘Rethinking Workplace’ hub here.

Anette Timmer EMEA Marketing Director Workplace and SSHL, Tarkett Full bio and articles


The Great Indoors Newsletter

Latest insights, delivered straight to your inbox