NBN will drive working from home opportunities: Lundy

Faster broadband means Australians not tied to major cities

The National Broadband Network (NBN) will increase the advantages of employees working from home for many businesses, according to government and industry representatives.

Speaking in Sydney at the launch of a Cisco report into into the changing work environment, ACT senator, Kate Lundy, said faster broadband would give employees and employers more choice over where work could be done.

“We are making this change and leading the debate on what a ubiquitous network will do this for the country. People will have choice of where they can work once the digital divide closes. It’s a fascinating test bed for changing work habits.”

For example, she said industries such as movie and television production which need fast broadband for digital production would not need to be tied to a studio as workers could set up a workstation from home.

Regional centres outside the major Australian cities could also attract people wanting what she called a sea change, or change of lifestyle.

“The distributed work force model is very much at one end of the spectrum. Isolation is serious so if someone working remotely, instead of a daily commute maybe a weekly commute to work,” she said.

Future Exploration Network chairman, Ross Dawson, said that while the promise of the NBN is still to come, there may come a time where Australians were not tied to large cities to work.

“There is an opportunity for regional hubs but urbanisation is going ahead within Australia at a continuing pace. There are issues with drought and water access so the jury is still out there.”

The Cisco report claimed that only 43 per cent of Australians surveyed said it was necessary for them to be in the office to make decisions. It also claimed 73 per cent of Australians surveyed would take a pay cut if it meant more flexible working conditions.

Lundy's confidence in the NBN came as a survey was released from broadband comparison website, Compare Broadband, which indicated Australian consumers saw 4G wireless and the NBN as necessary technologies.

Fifty-nine per cent of people surveyed wanted both technologies while 40 per cent preferred 4G as the dominant technology.