Report: Most Australian employees to work from home

A Gartner HR survey reveals 88 per cent of organisations have encouraged or required employees to work from home due to coronavirus

A new survey has found most Australian organisations plan on giving staff access to leave, paid time off, or the ability to work from home in order to ride out the COVID-19 crisis.

A Gartner HR survey reveals 88 per cent of organisations have encouraged or required employees to work from home due to coronavirus.

“Our research shows that only a minority of employers plan to downsize or ask employees to take unpaid leave,” Gartner HR practice chief of research, Brian Kropp, said. “Instead, most organisations are focusing on measures such as more effective use of technology and freezing new hiring to cut costs.”

Nearly half (48 per cent) of employers require employees to use sick leave first, then vacation leave and finally potential paid time off (PTO) for coronavirus absences, the report says. Twenty per cent of organisations increased PTO for individuals who are sick and/or caring for a sick family member; 18 per cent of organisations have granted additional PTO for parents who are caring for children whose schools are closed.

The survey shows most employers plan to cut costs while minimising impact to pay for existing employees when possible. Seventy per cent of organisations report that the main cost-cutting measure they plan to use is more effective use of technology. Nearly half of organisations plan to freeze new hiring.  

A greater percentage of organisations plan to reduce work for external partners rather than employees, one-fifth of organisations plan to stop or limit consultant spend and/or reduce the number of contract workers. Only 10 per cent of employers plan to reduce working hours, and just 6 per cent report asking employees to take unpaid leave.

A couple of examples seen across the marketing, media and agency landscape by CMO include JCDecaux, which has taken the precautionary measure of closing all its Australian and New Zealand offices other than those attached to field or print operations, until Monday 30 March. In those offices that will remain open it has instigated specific risk mitigation practices. The business is still operating, with staff working from home.

News Corp’s newspapers are being produced from couches and coffee tables as offices are deserted, the media giant reported today. Editorial news conferences are being held by Google Hangouts, designers are producing pages on their dining tables, and reporters and photographers are scattered across the states.

Other organisations who have staff working from include Nine, Seven West, Nova, and most advertising agencies.

Of course, many scheduled physical conferences and events have also gone ahead virtually. 

To manage remote talent during the COVID-19 pandemic, Gartner recommends HR leaders provide direction, confidence and resilience. Gartner’s survey found 56 per cent of organisations have communicated a plan of action to employees in the event the COVID-19 outbreak.

Also recommended is encouraging intentional peer-to-peer interactions. The survey found 40 per cent of organisations have set up additional virtual check-ins for employees with managers and 32 per cent of organisations have introduced new tools for virtual meetings. 

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, follow our regular updates via CMO Australia's Linkedin company page, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia.

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