A silver lining to our great WFH disruption



2020 will be a year to remember…or possibly more accurately one to forget, the world has changed and can now be categorised as pre-COVID and post-COVID.

We have all been forced to adapt, innovate and as my colleague Natalie previously discussed ‘pivot’ has become the new necessary. However, with all this accelerated change, we at Madden are observing some opportunities for our business and for our clients.

A key discussion point in our office is the talk of a migration from the urban environment to regional or rural locations. What does this mean for businesses, families and a possible resurgence in regional Australia?

Benefits to businesses

First let’s begin with the benefits to business. From a retention strategy and talent acquisition perspective, employers no longer must be bound by talent pools close to their offices or even in the same city, there is a possibility to find talent across the corners of the globe. Even, or should I say, especially in Gunnedah.

Within a specialised field such as ours this is an attractive proposition as it enables us to think outside the box and search for talent either on a contract or part-time basis to boost our base of expertise and flesh out our offering to best serve clients.

This could enable a more globalised work force or if not globalised, provide a win-win for both employers and employees regardless of their physical location. Especially within public relations where we can be nimble in our set up (if we have a client, laptop and a phone we are in business).

Greater flexibility for families

The great promise of remote working is its flexibility to families. Madden has long championed this kind of thinking and flexibility in its working environment and attitudes about ensuring the best client outcomes. If the job can be done better by people with the flexibility to avoid two hours of daily commuting, it makes perfect sense. But as businesses have all had to accelerate their remote working capability we are learning how this can best work for both employers and employees.

A risk of remote working is of course a higher chance of ‘burn out’ as you may be tempted to work longer hours as the lines become blurred between work and home. However, as our clients who are parents can attest the morning rush of school drop off and pick up has become significantly less stressful due to a remote working arrangement.

Madden client PGIM discusses the potential shift in live, play, work lifestyle requirements for the real estate market and whether this will be as valued especially by millennials as remote working becomes widely accepted and being close to the city and having a shorter commute time will hold less appeal.

A boost for regional Australia

As someone who moved from a rural area to be educated and start my career, I understand to the personal sacrifice of leaving your community to seek work in a professional field, hours from home and family.

Therefore, could this new shift to remote working enable greater job prospects for younger people looking to start their careers while still living in regional areas?

Regional Australia Institute’s “Big Movers” report examined how Covid-19 has affected regional population trends and found a growing number of millennials preferring a move to regional areas over capital city living.

With greater populations inevitably comes greater funding, better infrastructure and a better quality of life for the whole community, could this mean there will be a redistribution of opportunity for more rural and remote locations within Australia? I see this as only a positive.

Unquestionably we are living in uncertain and difficult times, however this pandemic does offer an opportunity to reflect, review and reassess. The economic and mental repercussions are only just beginning to be felt, and while there will be many more bumps in the road ahead for both the PR industry and businesses generally, I hope this could be a catalyst to generate greater inclusivity for the workforce.


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