Digital skills in the spotlight.
Australian workers’ sense of technology mastery has accelerated, with 65% of employees considering themselves either experts or proficient with digital technology, according to a survey by Gartner, Inc.
“Digital workers seized the opportunity to improve their mastery of technology during the pandemic,” said Gavin Tay, research vice president and Gartner Fellow. “They demonstrated adaptability and resourcefulness, became more autonomous in solving digital problems and felt more productive. Australian workers intend to seize the flexibility that 2020 gave them and turn it to their benefit.”
Gartner surveyed 10,080 full-time employees at organizations with 100 or more employees, including 919 in Australia, to better understand workers’ technology and workplace experiences and attitudes.
Although 31% of workers said they are still developing knowledge, that percentage has decreased as the pandemic forced organizations into a digital work reality.
Flexible Work Supports Increased Productivity
When asked to select reasons for improved productivity, 42% said flexible work hours. The next most common reasons for any productivity improvement were availability of new technology or devices (23%), and changes in their physical space or location, such as fewer distractions and less socializing with coworkers (23%).
Questions still linger among executives regarding the impact of remote work on productivity, however, more than one-third (34%) of Australians reported that they have been more productive since the start of the pandemic. Only 20% of Australian respondents said they were less productive since January 2020, and 46% felt their productivity remained the same. Connectivity issues were the most selected reason for decrease in productivity (26%) followed by more time spent in meetings (23%) and lack of the needed technology or technical know-how (23%).
Employee Monitoring Deemed Unacceptable
Australian workers are disinclined to approve of any method of digital surveillance to a notable degree, according to the research. Of workers surveyed, 20% said no form of monitoring is acceptable. Measuring task outcomes and frequent worker-manager check-in meetings are the most acceptable means of monitoring.
“Employers may monitor worker activities broadly, but should avoid using monitoring software,” said Tay. “They should also align any surveillance to existing consents, prioritize health and safety and follow notification rules.”
Coworking More Popular in Australia
One-third of Australians said they would prefer to work from a combination of locations. When asked to indicate what proportion of time they work from various locations, Australian respondents worked on average of 21% of the time in shared or coworking offices, higher than the 13% average across all countries surveyed, and significantly more than Japan (2%) and Germany (4.5%).
Only 12% said they would prefer to work at the company office all the time, while 14% said they prefer to only work from home. Looking ahead, 57% of Australian workers said they wish to work three or more days remotely each week.
Australians Prefer to Call IT for Help
In 2021, the variety of ways to solve digital challenges boomed. However, the survey found that the number one preference for Australians is still to call internal IT support and speak to a live person to help resolve technical issues (top choice for 20% of Australian respondents and 46% ranked it in the top three). Respondents in other countries were more likely to look for an answer on the internet or ask a coworker.
“Digital proficiency becomes even more essential for productivity when working remotely,” said Tay. “CIOs should extend worker-to-worker lateral mentoring and training to ensure that no employees are left behind as technology mastery becomes the expectation.”