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Working from home in the outer suburbs: good news in the COVID era

5 August 2020

The NGAA’s new research into working from home in the outer suburbs has revealed a positive outcome from Australia’s national lockdown – evidence of the many benefits and opportunities of working from home for the 5 million people living in outer urban growth areas.

The research, conducted during the nation-wide lockdown in May and June, found that:

Working from home has a profound impact on people in outer urban growth areas. They are productive, happier, healthier and more relaxed when they can work from home all or some of the time. Outer suburbs residents who worked from home were more likely to:

- Do more exercise (31% in growth areas compared to 28% in other areas) 

- Get more sleep (34% in growth areas, compared to 21% in other areas)

- Have better relationships with others at home (51% in growth areas compared to 35% in other areas).

 

  • More than half a million people could work from home in the outer suburbs – reducing traffic congestion significantly

- 57% of workers in outer urban growth areas have been working at home at least one day per week since COVID-19 restrictions came into place

- 522,000 people across Australia’s outer urban growth areas work in jobs that could be done flexibly and remotely – nearly a quarter of the entire growth areas workforce

 

  • Working from home could mean the end of nightmare commutes for many outer suburbs residents, and save each full time worker more than $8,000 a year:

- Workers in outer suburban growth areas spent $5.4 billion a year just getting to work before COVID-19, equal to $8,380 each year for a full-time worker (not counting 4 weeks’ leave)

 

  • Small business in growth areas would thrive if commuters switched to even one day a week of working from home:

- 76% of growth areas residents are more likely to use local businesses and services if they were working from or near home

- If every commuter bought just one coffee locally on one day it would inject $5.4 million into local economies.

However, the number of people in growth areas who can work from home is around 10% lower than in other areas (57% in growth areas compared to 66% in other areas).

In the future, the outer suburbs local revival is likely to continue with most people surveyed wanting to continue working from home. Two in five (43%) would like a blended approach to returning to the workplace, while one in 5 (21%) would prefer to stay at home. Two thirds said that they would consider using a co-working space or community hub close to home.

About the research

In May and June 2020, Quantum Market Research, commissioned by NGAA, interviewed over 6,000 people, 1,889 from growth areas. The data was weighted to be nationally representative by age, gender and location.

Astrolabe Group undertook macro-level analysis of commuter and employment patterns in growth areas. They analysed Census data, identified occupation types suitable for working remotely, and mapped these in local government areas. Commuting cost estimates are based on workers from outer suburbs who travel 10km or more per commute by car, broken down by full time and part time status, with 2019 vehicle costs data from the RACV.

Read the research reports here:

 

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