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Background

ARE EMPLOYEES UNPRODUCTIVE WHEN WORKING REMOTELY?

A Money Study, February 2023

Are employees unproductive when working remotely?

About the study

Money surveyed 627 employees (either casual, part-time time or full-time) to gauge whether Australians on wages or salaries are productive when working remotely, and what distractions they encounter at home. The survey uncovered high rates of inactivity and disruption over the course of an Australian employee’s workday.

The pool of survey respondents matches the age and geographical spread of the Australian population. 

What proportion of Australians work from home or remotely?

Money asked 627 Australian employees if they work from home or remotely and how many days a week they do so. Nearly half (48%) revealed they work remotely either some days or full-time. Specifically:

  • 35% of respondents work remotely on some days
  • 13% of respondents work remotely full-time
  • 52% of respondents indicated they don’t work remotely

Similar proportions of respondents across the age groups work remotely full-time or part-time. The results indicated that:

  • 35% of under-50s work remotely on some days
  • 34% of over-50s work remotely on some days

A similar, smaller proportion of respondents across the age groups adhere to a full-time remote working arrangement. 14% of under-30s indicated they work remotely full-time. This was followed by:

  • 11% of over-50s who work remotely full-time

Do you work from home or remotely any days of the week? By age

Do you work from home or remotely any days of the week? By age.

The survey found similar proportions of respondents across the major states and territories work from home or remotely full-time. 15% of Victorians say they work remotely full-time. This was followed by:

  • 13% of NSW and WA respondents
  • 12% of Queenslanders
  • 11% of South Australians

More respondents from Victoria and NSW appear to have adopted a hybrid working arrangement, with 40% and 39% of those respondents, respectively, stating they work remotely some days of the week. This compares with:

  • 34% of South Australians
  • 29% of West Australians
  • 28% of Queenslanders

Do Australians work from home or remotely any days of the week? By state

Response

Yes, some days

NSW (%)

39

VIC (%)

40

QLD (%)

28

SA (%)

34

WA (%)

29

ACT (%)

25

Response

Yes, full time

NSW (%)

13

VIC (%)

15

QLD (%)

12

SA (%)

11

WA (%)

13

ACT (%)

38

Response

No

NSW (%)

48

VIC (%)

45

QLD (%)

60

SA (%)

55

WA (%)

58

ACT (%)

37

ResponseNSW (%)VIC (%)QLD (%)SA (%)WA (%)ACT (%)

Yes, some days

39

40

28

34

29

25

Yes, full time

13

15

12

11

13

38

No

48

45

60

55

58

37

Do Australians struggle with productivity when working from home or remotely?

Nearly two-thirds (64%) of the survey respondents who work from home or remotely at least one day per week indicated that less than 80% of their workday is performed productively. Specifically:

clock svg

22% of respondents work productively for 30-50% of the day

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21% work productively 60-70% of the day

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18% work productively less than 30% of the day

clock svg

4% aren’t productive at all

Only 35% of respondents indicated that more than 80% of their workday is spent working productively.

What percentage of your workday would you say is productive when you work from home or remotely?

What percentage of your workday would you say is productive when you work from home or remotely?

Over-50s seem to be more disciplined and encounter fewer distractions. The survey found this age group is more likely to work productively when working remotely, with 57% indicating that more than 80% of their workday is spent working productively. This compares with:

  • 38% of 31-50 year olds
  • 19% of under-30s

In contrast, more under-30s (31%) admit that they only work productively for 30 to 50% of their workday. This compares with:

  • 22% of 31-50 year olds
  • 7% of over-50s

More under-30s (21%) also admitted to working productively remotely for less than 30% of their workday. This compares with:

  • 17% of 31-50 year olds
  • 14% of over-50s

What percentage of your workday would you say is productive when you work from home or remotely? By Age

What percentage of your workday would you say is productive when you work from home or remotely? By Age.

Across the states, a higher proportion of South Australians (71%) spend less than 80% of their day productively when working remotely. This compares with:

  • 68% of NSW respondents
  • 67% of Victorians
  • 54% of West Australians
  • 52% of Queenslanders

Respondents based in Queensland are most likely to work productively for less than 30% of their day, when working remotely. This was indicated by 27% of Queensland respondents, and compares with:

  • 25% of Victorians
  • 24% of South Australians
  • 11% of NSW respondents
  • 8% of West Australians

More South Australians (33%) admitted to spending 30 to 50% of their day working productively. This compares with:

  • 26% of NSW respondents
  • 23% of West Australians
  • 20% of Victorians
  • 9% of Queenslanders

What percentage of Australians workdays are productive when they work from home or remotely? By state

Response

Not at all

NSW (%)

5

VIC (%)

3

QLD (%)

5

SA (%)

0

WA (%)

4

ACT (%)

0

Response

Less than 30%

NSW (%)

11

VIC (%)

25

QLD (%)

27

SA (%)

24

WA (%)

8

ACT (%)

0

Response

30-50%

NSW (%)

26

VIC (%)

20

QLD (%)

9

SA (%)

33

WA (%)

23

ACT (%)

20

Response

60-70%

NSW (%)

27

VIC (%)

19

QLD (%)

11

SA (%)

14

WA (%)

19

ACT (%)

20

Response

More than 80%

NSW (%)

31

VIC (%)

33

QLD (%)

48

SA (%)

29

WA (%)

46

ACT (%)

60

ResponseNSW (%)VIC (%)QLD (%)SA (%)WA (%)ACT (%)

Not at all

5

3

5

0

4

0

Less than 30%

11

25

27

24

8

0

30-50%

26

20

9

33

23

20

60-70%

27

19

11

14

19

20

More than 80%

31

33

48

29

46

60

Are Australians spending their remotely working days engaging in non-work activities?

Money survey respondents were also asked to identify the non-work-related activities they engage in, during work hours and outside of lunch breaks, when working remotely. The respondents could select more than one activity from a list of eight.

Nearly two thirds (62%) of respondents admitted they run errands such as grocery shopping, medical appointments and post office collections, during their remote working day, while more than half (58%) engage in non-working reading, watch TV or use social media.

Other activities respondents admitted to engaging in when working remotely included:

1

Doing housework (chosen by 57% of respondents)

2

Fitness, leisure, recreational activities (chosen by 43%)

3

School drop-off and pick-up (35%)

4

Social catch ups with friends or family (34%)

5

Sleeping (30%)

6

Helping children with homework and/or preparing their meals (29%)

When you work from home or remotely, do you do the following during work hours and outside of lunch breaks?

When you work from home or remotely, do you do the following during work hours and outside of lunch breaks?

Here's what this survey question uncovered:

The survey found that higher rates of men use their work hours for errands related to their children, compared with female respondents. Specifically, 38% of men take their children to and from school during their workday. This compares with:

    circle-green-tick
  • 31% of women

More men, by a small margin, also indicated they help their children with their homework or prepare their meals. This included:

    circle-green-tick
  • 31% of men

Compared with:

    circle-green-tick
  • 27% of women

Men are also more likely to catch up on sleep than their female counterparts, by a small margin:

    circle-green-tick
  • 33% of men

Compared with:

    circle-green-tick
  • 27% of women

The survey also found that women are more likely to run errands, such as grocery shopping, medical appointments, and post office collections, at 43%. This compares with:

    circle-green-tick
  • 34% of men

A higher proportion of women also do housework during work hours:

    circle-green-tick
  • 61% of women

Compared with:

    circle-green-tick
  • 54% of men

When you work from home or remotely, do you do the following during work hours and outside of lunch breaks? By gender

When you work from home or remotely, do you do the following during work hours and outside of lunch breaks? By gender.

Across the age groups, younger respondents are more likely to engage in non-work-related activities during their remote working day. Two thirds (66%) of under-50s admitted to running errands during work hours. This compares with:

  • 47% of over-50s

More younger respondents would also use social media, watch TV or engage in non-work reading, with 75% of under-30s admitting they engage in these activities during work hours. This compares with:

  • 56% of 31-50-year-olds
  • 40% of over-50s

Housework was also a prominent activity under-30s engage in during their workdays, as indicated by 67% of those respondents. This compares with:

  • 58% of 31-50-year-olds
  • 43% of over-50s

A higher proportion of under-30s also engage in fitness, leisure and recreational activities during their remote working day, at 57%. This compares with:

  • 41% of 31-50-year-olds
  • 27% of over-50s

When you work from home or remotely, do you do the following during work hours and outside of lunch breaks? By age

When you work from home or remotely, do you do the following during work hours and outside of lunch breaks? By age.

More South Australians than respondents in any other State admitted they do housework during their remote working day, at 86%. This compares with:

  • 57% of Victorians and NSW respondents
  • 52% of Queenslanders
  • 50% of West Australians

Social catch ups with friends or family is also a more common occurrence among South Australian respondents, with 52% admitting to engaging in this activity. This compares with:

  • 41% of NSW respondents
  • 29% of Victorians
  • 27% of Queenslanders and West Australians

Similar proportions of respondents across the States spend their work hours using social media, watching TV or engaging in non-work reading. By a small margin, a higher proportion of South Australians (67%), admitted to engaging in these activities. This was followed by:

  • 62% of West Australians
  • 61% of Victorians
  • 58% of NSW respondents
  • 57% of Queenslanders

When you work from home or remotely, do you do the following during work hours and outside of lunch breaks? By state

Response

Run errands such as grocery shopping, medical appts, and post office collections

NSW (%)

62

VIC (%)

65

QLD (%)

61

SA (%)

67

WA (%)

58

ACT (%)

0

Response

Take the kids to and from school

NSW (%)

33

VIC (%)

39

QLD (%)

32

SA (%)

43

WA (%)

27

ACT (%)

0

Response

Help the kids with their homework and/or prepare their meals

NSW (%)

27

VIC (%)

36

QLD (%)

25

SA (%)

33

WA (%)

23

ACT (%)

0

Response

Do housework

NSW (%)

57

VIC (%)

57

QLD (%)

52

SA (%)

86

WA (%)

50

ACT (%)

40

Response

Fitness, leisure, recreational activities

NSW (%)

42

VIC (%)

47

QLD (%)

46

SA (%)

52

WA (%)

35

ACT (%)

0

Response

Non-work reading, social media use or watching TV

NSW (%)

58

VIC (%)

61

QLD (%)

57

SA (%)

67

WA (%)

62

ACT (%)

0

Response

Social catch ups with friends or family

NSW (%)

41

VIC (%)

29

QLD (%)

27

SA (%)

52

WA (%)

27

ACT (%)

0

Response

Sleep

NSW (%)

33

VIC (%)

33

QLD (%)

21

SA (%)

43

WA (%)

15

ACT (%)

20

ResponseNSW (%)VIC (%)QLD (%)SA (%)WA (%)ACT (%)

Run errands such as grocery shopping, medical appts, and post office collections

62

65

61

67

58

0

Take the kids to and from school

33

39

32

43

27

0

Help the kids with their homework and/or prepare their meals

27

36

25

33

23

0

Do housework

57

57

52

86

50

40

Fitness, leisure, recreational activities

42

47

46

52

35

0

Non-work reading, social media use or watching TV

58

61

57

67

62

0

Social catch ups with friends or family

41

29

27

52

27

0

Sleep

33

33

21

43

15

20

Do Australians succumb to more distractions when working remotely?

Survey respondents were also asked whether there are more distractions when they work from home or remotely, and to identify what those distractions are. Respondents could select more than one distraction from a list of six. More than two thirds (67%) of respondents selected at least one distraction. Specifically:

user-right

23% of respondents admitted they are distracted by their TV

user-left

22% are distracted by unexpected errands or appointments that required leaving the home

user-right

22% are distracted by social media

user-left

21% are distracted by pets who want to play

user-right

19% are distracted by other household members or children

user-left

11% are distracted by visitors

33% of respondents indicated they don’t experience more distractions when working remotely, while 5% admitted to being more distracted by other activities, not identified in the survey.

Do you have more distractions when you work from home or remotely - and what are they?

Do you have more distractions when you work from home or remotely - and what are they?

Under-30s respondents are more likely to be distracted by social media when working remotely, at 38%. This compares with:

  • 18% of 31-50-years-olds
  • 9% of over-50s

Unexpected errands or appointments are also a prominent distraction for 28% of under-30s respondents. This compares with:

  • 22% of 31-50-year-olds
  • 13% of over-50s

In contrast, older respondents are the least likely to be distracted when working remotely. Nearly half (47%) of over-50s indicated they do not experience more distractions. This compares with:

  • 34% of 31-50-year-olds
  • 21% of under-30s

Do you have more distractions when you work from home or remotely - and what are they? By age

Do you have more distractions when you work from home or remotely - and what are they? By age.

Across the states, more NSW respondents are distracted by social media when working remotely, at 27%. This compares with:

  • 24% of South Australians
  • 21% of Queenslanders
  • 20% of Victorians
  • 15% of West Australians

Errands are also a prominent distraction for respondents across the States. A higher proportion of Victorians (26%), by a small margin, admitted they are distracted by errands and appointments when working remotely. This was followed by:

  • 25% of Queenslanders
  • 22% of NSW respondents
  • 14% of South Australians
  • 12% of West Australians

Pets were also identified as a major distraction, particularly for respondents based in Queensland (27%). This compares with:

  • 24% of Victorians and South Australians
  • 19% of NSW respondents
  • 8% of West Australians

Do you have more distractions when you work from home or remotely – and what are they? By state

Response

Yes, the TV

NSW (%)

26

VIC (%)

24

QLD (%)

14

SA (%)

24

WA (%)

19

ACT (%)

20

Response

Yes, pets who want to play

NSW (%)

19

VIC (%)

24

QLD (%)

27

SA (%)

24

WA (%)

8

ACT (%)

20

Response

Yes, unexpected errands or appointments making me leave the house

NSW (%)

22

VIC (%)

26

QLD (%)

25

SA (%)

14

WA (%)

12

ACT (%)

0

Response

Yes, other household members (or kids) who disrupt me or are noisy

NSW (%)

19

VIC (%)

18

QLD (%)

18

SA (%)

10

WA (%)

27

ACT (%)

20

Response

Yes, visitors

NSW (%)

14

VIC (%)

5

QLD (%)

9

SA (%)

14

WA (%)

8

ACT (%)

20

Response

Yes, I am on social media

NSW (%)

27

VIC (%)

20

QLD (%)

21

SA (%)

24

WA (%)

15

ACT (%)

0

Response

Yes, but none of the above

NSW (%)

4

VIC (%)

5

QLD (%)

7

SA (%)

10

WA (%)

4

ACT (%)

0

Response

No

NSW (%)

32

VIC (%)

30

QLD (%)

34

SA (%)

24

WA (%)

46

ACT (%)

40

ResponseNSW (%)VIC (%)QLD (%)SA (%)WA (%)ACT (%)

Yes, the TV

26

24

14

24

19

20

Yes, pets who want to play

19

24

27

24

8

20

Yes, unexpected errands or appointments making me leave the house

22

26

25

14

12

0

Yes, other household members (or kids) who disrupt me or are noisy

19

18

18

10

27

20

Yes, visitors

14

5

9

14

8

20

Yes, I am on social media

27

20

21

24

15

0

Yes, but none of the above

4

5

7

10

4

0

No

32

30

34

24

46

40

Shaun McGowan Money.com.au founder

Written by

Shaun McGowan

Shaun McGowan is the founder of Money.com.au. He's determined to help people and businesses pay as little as possible for financial products, through education and building world class technology. Previously Shaun co-founded CarLoans.com.au and Lend.

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