PRIME Minister Julia Gillard will commit to Labor having 12 per cent of federal public servants regularly "teleworking" from home by 2020, in a speech on Monday to a Telework Congress at Melbourne University.
At present, only about 4 per cent of the public service does so. "Teleworking" is operating from home for one or more days a week, using high-speed broadband.
It enables higher workforce participation, especially for part-time, casual, older and disabled workers, and people who are carers or living in regional and remote areas. Research by Deloitte released on Monday for National Telework Week shows the opportunity to operate from home is popular.
The survey found 73 per cent of part-time and casual respondents said they would take up telework if it were available and most were willing to change industries to get it.
Six in 10 people nearing retirement age said they would undertake telework and as a result delay retirement by an average of 6.6 years.
Nearly three-quarters of people with family or carer responsibilities who were not in the labour force would take up this work the figures for those (also not in the workforce) with disabilities and in regional or remote areas were 66 per cent and 70 per cent respectively.
It is estimated telework will deliver an extra $3.2 billion a year to GDP by 2020-21 and the equivalent of an extra 25,000 full-time jobs.
Medibank Private has 1000 people teleworking from home, providing an after-hours GP service with nurses and doctors from all around the country. It has led to higher productivity and fewer sick days.
Cisco has about 90 per cent of its staff globally using telework and Telstra, Westpac, Microsoft and KPMG are already using telework to retain and attract skilled staff and save costs by reducing pressure on office accommodation.
Monday's congress brings together industry leaders and businesses to discuss the best ways of implementing and getting the benefits from telework, given the government is rolling out the National Broadband Network.
Speaking by videolink, Ms Gillard will tell the congress "harnessing the benefits of new technology and work patterns will be important for Australia if we are to embrace the opportunities of the Asian Century. That's why the government is building the NBN and why we want to engage with employers and employees to inform them of the possibilities of telework".