Abstract: This study investigates changes to the workplace that are leading to ‘anywhere working’. It explores the potential demand for smart work centres in the local government areas of Liverpool, Blacktown and Penrith in Western Sydney and the public and private benefits that would accrue from their use.
Smart work centres are differentiated from other work environments by location, operations and atmosphere. Targeted to serve teleworkers, they are located close to where people live, provide a fully serviced formal workplace but operate with a community atmosphere that engenders creativity and innovation. This report investigates the circumstances that support teleworking, examines the commuting patterns and demographics of the 3 LGAs, and then analyses census data to predict a solid demand for a centre in any one of the 3 locations, suggesting that a smart work centre in any of the Liverpool, Blacktown or Penrith locations could be successful. The report goes on to propose a scenario for such a centre based on the findings from the research.
By using a smart work centre a day or two a week, workers reduce their commuting time burden and private vehicle travel costs, whilst maintaining workplace culture and visibility through physical presence in the office on the other days. A reduction in the amount of commuting reduces congestion on roads and public transport systems at peak times. The public benefits that accrue from this include reduced greenhouse gas emissions, noise, pollution and fewer accidents as well as reduced costs for other vehicles, reduced traffic variability and delays. The government has more time to plan and fund future transport infrastructure and services needs.
Using a methodology developed for this study, the cost impacts of reducing commuting time and distances due to smart work center take up for both public and private benefit have been calculated in the millions of dollars.
The establishment of smart work centres in outer urban areas addresses current NSW State Government policy about creating jobs close to where people live and relocating government jobs to regional and metropolitan locations, and provides a more creative solution than forced decentralisation of entire departments. The public benefits of reduced congestion calculated in this study provide an argument for financial support from government to catalyse some of these benefits. Public subsidy could come in the form of direct funding, financial support through provision of buildings, or as a role as anchor tenant, or a combination of two or more. State Government support could also come through policies and procedures to allow their own staff to telework.