Brokers seem to be ahead of the game when it comes to working remotely in Australia, after Hays recruitment published a report saying the country is ‘slow on the uptake’ in terms of ‘teleworking’.
The white paper, titled Tomorrow's Workforce, found that working remotely, or teleworking, is becoming more acceptable by employers and employees and will allow for greater flexibility in who works when - and where they work will no longer really be an issue.
But, they say, Australia is lagging behind many other countries in the acceptance of teleworking. In the US for instance, 11 million people reportedly telecommute at least one day of the week. In Australia, less than 10% of employers say they make telecommuting available to all employees.
In this respect, mortgage brokers are leading the way – and this could be the industry’s ticket to attracting younger recruits.
Mortgage Choice general manager, operations, Neill Rose-Innes, says he’s noticed the potential to work remotely appeals to men and women with young families in particular.
“If you look at our industry, one thing we’d love is to attract younger professionals. Younger professionals regenerate the industry – they have new and different ideas. It’s all really important in regenerating the industry and making the proposition relevant for future generations and the expectations that clients have. I think the idea that workplace flexibility and tech plays an important part in that is a really important contributor to enabling the industry to attract new talent.”
Sydney-based broker, Merveille Geaitani, works from home most days and says she only goes into her franchise office for meetings or the occasional BDM visit.
“I guess it can be easier – your hours are a lot more flexible and I can work around the kids. I’ve got three young children and I get to cut out travel time.”
Geaitani says mortgage broking is a profession that appears to be tailor-made for teleworking.
“I think it is set up really for people to work remotely and a lot of mortgage brokers do…You can work remotely and if you’ve got your laptop and basic office equipment you can work from home, your client’s home - even a café.”
According to the Hays survey, of those employers who do offer teleworking, only 2.9% are prepared to recruit people from a broader geographical area as a result, although 51.2% will consider widening their search base for certain roles.
But Adam Shapley, regional director of Hays Property, says more and more people are calling for the ability to work remotely.
"It is not just businesses that are supporting teleworking,” he says, “The attitudes of candidates towards teleworking also continue to change, with almost one quarter (23.5%) indicating they would not work for an organisation that didn't allow at least occasional teleworking."
However, there is one issue with teleworking and it’s something many brokers can relate to: work/life balance.
According to survey, four in 10 employees (39%) believe their use of portable technology for work eats into their personal life.
"The question this poses for employers is what employees expect in return. If the use of technology for work purposes in personal time is becoming more accepted, and wi-fi and wireless devices are available in most locations, even on holidays, then employers need to ensure their staff achieve work/life balance in other ways.”
Rose-Innes agrees, but says the flipside is also true; the ability to work flexible hours enables brokers to work when they’re most likely to be productive.
“Modern technology can create a blur between work and personal life, but it does allow individuals to be more productive when they need to be. A lot of people work standard office hours and spend half their day, quote, ‘working’. Teleworking allows people to work when they’re most likely to be productive.”