Six months ago it would have been unimaginable that such vast numbers of Australians would be able to successfully work from home – any right-minded person – me included, would have cautioned the move, and suggested a staggered approach to getting to that point.

But like most things that have happened in the last few months there was no option. We had to change, and change fast. Australia will be looked upon in the history of this crisis as having done a stellar job at managing the pandemic, and the continuation of most business in the midst of what was essentially a lockdown.

Turns out, in terms of the idea of working from home – it’s had a positive effect on the concept. A Survey commissioned by the NBN shows 81% of people say the experience of working from home has had a positive impact on the way they think about work/life flexibility and how they manage it.

Additionally, and critically, 67% say they expect to work from home more after this is all over. That’s a sign there’s some big changes ahead for business.

Underpinning all this is the NBN, love it or hate it, you simply cannot argue that this COVID-19 crisis has proven its worth, and as the Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher points out, it has coped with an enormous load on the entire network “The network has stood up to considerable increases in demand with downloads soaring up to 70 per cent during work hours since social distancing requirements came into effect. Thanks to the NBN, Australians have been able to keep working productively from home and stay connected with their colleagues, clients and stakeholders.” Minister Fletcher said.

According to the survey, 83% of people say they could not have completed their jobs without access to fast internet.

Minister Fletcher took the time to put the boot into Labors original plan too, saying “If the NBN was still being rolled out in line with Labor’s original plan, some 3.5 million fewer households would have been able to connect to the NBN when Australia was hit by COVID-19 earlier this year.

Now personally, I agree. Though it’s impossible to truely quantify, the very idea that the Labor Fibre to the Premises NBN could have been completed by now is laughable. More than half the network has been completed without digging up the streets, something that would have been necessary under the FTTP model. It’s simply not possible without an enormous cost blow out that the NBN would have been this close to completion by now under the original plan.

And just look at what we have, now with almost all homes ready to connect to the NBN, our use of the network has boomed under the Pandemic.

An increase of 70% in usage during the day since this all got crazy on 1 March.

NBN’s Brad Whitcomb says “The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated the digitisation of our lives and highlighted the very reason the nbn™ broadband network was built. The way Australians use the internet to work, learn new skills and connect with their family, friends and colleagues has been transformed, and we expect that many of these new behaviours are here to stay,”

The number of people expecting to continue a level of Work from Home going forward was higher (69%) in Metro areas than in regional Australia (54%), but no matter what, we’re in for a long term change.

Nigel Pugh from Venture Insights who conducted the survey says “As working habits have changed over the past several weeks, many preconceptions about the viability of long-term remote working seem to have shifted,”

“We’ve seen in the research that, for many Australians, this change in routine has given them the freedom to embrace greater work/life flexibility. In light of this, it’s not surprising that two-thirds of respondents who worked from home are interested in maintaining their new ways of working even
after restrictions are lifted.”