Taking the Pulse of the Nation

Informing Australian economic & social policy. A Melbourne Institute & Roy Morgan partnership

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Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) surveys the Australian population to capture their sentiments and behaviours related to current economic and social issues

Since 2020, the Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) survey has collected compelling information on the changing behaviours and attitudes of Australians. Together, Melbourne Institute and Roy Morgan understand the value in capturing the voices of Australians on the issues that matter right now. We use this information to create expert analyses to directly inform social and economic policies for our Nation.

This survey data is available subject to relevant fees and conditions.  Please contact us for more information and access.

Workers and employers disagree on working from home, especially female workers

As Australia emerges from pandemic restrictions, workers and employers are negotiating the balance of work from home and work from the office. Workers have become accustomed to the flexibility of working from home, but employers may want more time in the office than workers want to give. This disagreement over hours in the office and at home has remained stable over the past year and is more pronounced for women.

Over half of Australians can perform their work tasks at home

Some jobs require workers to be on site, e.g., construction, supermarkets, but 61% of workers report they have work tasks that can be performed at home. This improves the likelihood that workers and employers could negotiate on where a worker performs their job.

Australians want part of the workweek at home

Almost all workers (88%) would like to work at least part of the workweek at home, and 60% would like some hybrid version where they work at home and in the office. However, only 49% of workers report their employers would agree to hybrid work.

Workers and employers disagree

Workers and employers agree on the number of hours spent working from home only 37% of the time (Figure 1). Over one-third of workers would like to spend more time working from home than their employer would permit. Conversely, the disagreement goes the opposite way as well. About one-third of workers want to spend more hours in the office, even when their employer would let them work those hours from home. This pattern has been relatively stable from April 2021 to May 2022 and reflects a mismatch between what employers and workers envision for the workplace.

Female workers disagree the most

Women are 25% more likely than men (8 percentage point difference) to want to spend more time working from home than their employer would allow (Figure 2). This is not because women are more likely to be caregivers. A 7-percentage point gender gap remains even after accounting for having children in the household.

The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated that being in the office is not necessarily an essential requirement for workers to perform their jobs successfully. However, many employers would still prefer their workers to be in the office more often than workers would like. This disagreement in working arrangements has been relatively stable over the past year. How this settles in the labour market remains to be seen. Workers who would like more flexibility have the option of seeking alternative employment, and given current labour shortages, employers may need to give workers what they want.

This Taking the Pulse of the Nation insight was authored by Professor Ragan Petrie, Professorial Fellow, Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research, 11 July 2022

*Note for Fig. 1 & 2: "Agreement" means workers report the proportion of the workweek they would like to work from home is the same as their employer would permit. "Employer permits..." means employers would permit the worker to spend more of their workweek at home than the worker would like. "Worker wants..." means workers would like to work more at home than the employer would permit.

**This report uses survey responses from several waves of the Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) survey, from April 2021 to May 2022. The TTPN survey was conducted bi-weekly through 2021 and then monthly from 2022 among a representative sample of Australians. The total number of respondents across the waves is 8,600, and of those, about 2,900 are currently working and have tasks they can perform at home. The findings are based on these responses.

***Beginning in April 2020, the Taking the Pulse of the Nation (TTPN) was conceptualised and implemented by a group of researchers at the Melbourne Institute: Applied Economic & Social Research. Each wave includes a set of core questions, as well as additional questions that address current and emerging issues facing Australians. The TTPN sample is stratified to reflect the Australian adult population in terms of age, gender, and location. In 2022, the Melbourne Institute and Roy Morgan formed a partnership to extend the running of the TTPN. The TTPN Survey uses a repeated cross-sectional design. If you are interested in adding questions to the survey or accessing the data, please contact us at: melb-inst@unimelb.edu.au.

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