Trust and cultural change keys to more remote work

Trust and cultural change keys to more remote work

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Organisational cultural change, mainly greater trust in employees' ability to work from home, is the key to allowing more to work from home.

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Former Yarriambiack Shire mayor Ray Kingston believes cultural change could help more people work remotely and help revitalise rural communities.

Former Yarriambiack Shire mayor Ray Kingston believes cultural change could help more people work remotely and help revitalise rural communities.

GREATER trust from employers and changes in culture from large employers are among the keys to getting more people to successfully work remotely according to rural leaders.

Those within the rural sector are optimistic the current working arrangements used to comply with COVID-19 restrictions may eventually lead to greater acceptance for remote working and create more opportunities for those wanting to base themselves outside a capital city or major regional centre.

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Jo Hall, chief executive of Wool Producers Australia, who spends muc of her work life working from home, said the key thing to establish a successful working from home culture within an organisation was trust.

"The most important thing is that you have to have trust in the people you've got working remotely, and I'd argue if you don't you probably have problems to start with," Ms Hall said.

"What the big companies, that have traditionally shied away from having people working from home, are seeing is that productivity does not necessarily drop away when people are not in the office."

Ray Kingston, a former mayor of the Yarriambiack Shire in Victoria's north-west who has been involved in rural migration and retention projects, said the logistical requirements to work remotely were already by and large in place.

"The technology has its flaw but generally we can work with it," Mr Kingston said.

"What I am hoping for is that the current requirement to work from home may lead to important cultural change in regards to working off-site."

"The capability is there but it has maybe required a change of attitude in regards to what can be done online and remotely," Mr Kingston said.

"We saw it ourselves on the council the first couple of times we had meetings over Skype people did not take them seriously, as 'real meetings' but gradually there has been that change in how this type of interaction is perceived," he said.

"Now we may see the same thing happening in broader Australia in regards to its attitudes towards people working at home which could be a really good thing for us in rural communities trying to attract people to live here."

Nigel Crawley, director at agribusiness recruitment agency Rimfire Resources, said working through potential weaknesses in meeting remotely would be critical in gaining employers' full trust in remote working.

"Issues like confidentiality could be a problem," Mr Crawley said.

"For instance, if there are discussions with clients about sensitive information, is the client going to be satisfied no-one else is listening to them."

"We are not saying don't work remotely but it may not be suitable for all parts of the job."

Mr Kingston said the first step in allowing successful internal communications while allowing people to work from home was to identify what could and couldn't be done via video conferencing.

"What we're starting to see now is that people are realising they don't have to bring people in to physically attend every single meeting.

"There will be some occasions where it is best to meet in person but a lot of the time it is fine to do things via video conferencing."

He said in his experiences as a councillor in large shire were that remote conferencing freed up a lot of extra time.

"You just save so much in terms of travel time and that is one easy way employers and institutions can help support people working off-site."

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