June 29, 2020

Nearly a third of Australian workers have been ‘#WFH’

Topic: Press Release
Finding No: 8451
RMR Logo

New research from Roy Morgan shows over 4.3 million people (32% of working Australians) have been ‘working from home’ (WFH) during the last few months since the COVID-19 pandemic shut down large parts of the Australian economy. These findings are based on interviews with 9,905 Australians aged 14+ conducted in April-May 2020 – of whom 6,637 are working Australians.

Working Women (33%) are slightly more likely than men (32%) to be working from home during this period and there are significant differences between age groups. People aged 35-49 (38%) are the most likely to be working from home followed by those aged 25-34 (36%) and 50-64 (33%).

Far less likely to be working from home are those workers at either end of the age spectrum with just over one-in-five of those aged 65+ (23%) working from home and only 17% of those aged under 25.

There are also significant differences between people working in different industries. Over half of people working in Finance & Insurance (58%) and Public Administration & Defence (51%) have been working from home and just under half of those in Communications (47%).

Far less likely to be working from home are Australians working in more ‘hands-on’ industries. Fewer than one-in-six Australians working in Manufacturing (16%), Transport & Storage (15%), Agriculture (13%) or Retail (12%) have been working from home during the last few months.

Working from home by Industry – Top 3 & Bottom 3

Source: Roy Morgan multi-mode survey of Australians conducted from the weekend of April 17-19, 2020 through to May 29-31, 2020, n=9,905 including 6,637 working Australians. Base: Australians aged 14+.

Canberra workers most likely to be ‘Working from Home’

Unsurprisingly Australians in the Capital Cities (36%) are more likely to be working from home than those in Country Areas (25%). Notably Canberra has the highest proportion of workers now working from home at a stunning 48%.

Behind Canberra are Australia’s two largest cities with well over a third of workers now working from home in both Sydney (40%) and Melbourne (39%). Brisbane and Perth are next on 31% - but this is less than the national average – ahead of Adelaide on 28% and Tasmania on only 22%.

Roy Morgan CEO Michele Levine says: “’Working from Home’ has long been mooted as a potential solution to avoid commuter gridlock and allow greater workplace flexibility. The experience of the Australian economy during the COVID-19 pandemic suggests we will see a lot more of it in the years ahead.

“One of the unexpected benefits of the pandemic is we’ve seen large parts of the economy function well at short notice as millions of Australians – over 4.3 million according to the latest Roy Morgan data – have been forced to ‘work from home’ during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Working from home isn’t ideal for all workers and isn’t possible in some industries – only 12% of people working in Retail, 13% in Agriculture, 15% in Transport & Storage and 16% in Manufacturing have been working from home – but there are other industries that appear a natural fit for this increased workplace flexibility.

“Nearly three-in-five people working in Finance & Insurance (58%), over half in Public Administration & Defence (51%) and nearly half of those working in Communication (47%) have been working from home during the pandemic. While many employers, employees and self-employed people are still grappling with the challenges of working from home it does open up a range of possibilities for employers looking to save money in a cost-cutting world post-pandemic.

“Why should businesses spend large sums of money renting out expensive office space in the city when half of their employees might be happy to work from home and only come into the office once or twice a week or perhaps a few times a month?

“Analysing these results by location shows office lessors in Australia’s south-eastern population centres that have the most to be concerned about with a potential working from home revolution. In Canberra nearly half of all workers (48%) have been working from home during the pandemic and close behind (and with much larger workforces and implications for city offices) are Sydney (40%) and Melbourne (39%).”

Australians in the workforce were asked: “As a result of the Coronavirus Crisis, have you experienced any of the following employment changes.”  Those who answered ‘Working from home’ have been analysed here across a range of key demographic.

View our range of Employment Related Profiles.

For comments or more information please contact:
Roy Morgan - Enquiries
Office: +61 (03) 9224 5309

Margin of Error

The margin of error to be allowed for in any estimate depends mainly on the number of interviews on which it is based. Margin of error gives indications of the likely range within which estimates would be 95% likely to fall, expressed as the number of percentage points above or below the actual estimate. Allowance for design effects (such as stratification and weighting) should be made as appropriate.

Sample Size Percentage Estimate
40% – 60% 25% or 75% 10% or 90% 5% or 95%
1,000 ±3.0 ±2.7 ±1.9 ±1.3
5,000 ±1.4 ±1.2 ±0.8 ±0.6
7,500 ±1.1 ±1.0 ±0.7 ±0.5
10,000 ±1.0 ±0.9 ±0.6 ±0.4
20,000 ±0.7 ±0.6 ±0.4 ±0.3
50,000 ±0.4 ±0.4 ±0.3 ±0.2

Related Findings

Back to top
Back To Top Arrow