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Literature review

This report synthesises the literature of the last decade, with a focus on literature emerging since the onset of the pandemic to identify issues that will affect working in the Australian Public Service (APS). It focuses on teleworking, but also examines activity-based working, and remote working hubs. It examines a range of issues including staff experiences of working remotely, how managers manage in this new environment, productivity, emerging trends in accommodation and digital infrastructure, work health and safety, changes which may be necessary to industrial instruments in an evolving environment, and finally, workforce planning.

Emerging grey literature overwhelmingly argues that the future of work is hybrid, with employers, senior leaders and employees expecting to work part of the week remotely, and part at their employer’s premises. The preferred amount of time to work at home is two to three days a week. Working remotely has traditionally been undertaken by older workers who are managers and knowledge workers but the demographics are changing, to encompass younger people and those in a wider range of occupations.

Teleworking, and newer forms of working, including shared working spaces, have differing impacts on the various diversity groups. Recent research has shown younger workers experienced difficulties working remotely, particularly around networking and career development; teleworking can also disadvantage women due to decreased visibility in the workplace; and regional and rural employees have had less access to these newer workspaces. These differential impacts will need to be considered by APS organisations to ensure that equity and inclusion remains a hallmark of the sector.

The APS faces a range of challenges adopting new ways of working. These encompass organisational culture, human resource and industrial relations issues, managerial capability, and infrastructure and technology. This literature review examines these issues, highlighting emerging trends and insights.

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