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Has the Australian Government shelved its Teleworking initiative for good?

How Teleworking Began in Australia

teleworking
Our Team are teleworking independent contractors and they can help you do the same

In 2011, the then-Gillard Government introduced a teleworking initiative, established to encourage private sector employers to allow their employees to regularly work from home. The teleworking initiative was soon followed by Gillard’s own commitment in 2012 to have 12 percent of all Australian public servants teleworking by 2020. But the initiative also served another purpose: to promote the use of the national broadband network (NBN).  

That was then. By 2013, the Gillard Government had been ousted, and the NBN has been through many different incarnations since it was first announced – it’s still moving forward, albeit as a significantly scaled back offering to what was originally proposed. Also ousted in 2013 was the Department of Broadband Communications and the Digital Economy (DBCDE), which oversaw the Government’s Teleworking initiative.

In place of the DBCDE, the Government formed the Department of Communications. It’s primary functions are the same as the DBCDE’s, with one exception: there’s no teleworking initiative, which has ostensibly gone the way of the clog (remember those?). For whatever reason, it now appears that the Federal Government isn’t very interested in encouraging Australian businesses to have their staff telework or to utilise teleworkers, who may be scattered across Australia.

Employed Teleworkers not Independent Contractors?

Could it be that the telework initiative stepped on the toes of various of state and territory level telework initiatives that involved funding, what the NSW Government has dubbed, Smart Work Hubs? Smart Work Hubs, like the one at Wyong on the NSW Central Coast, are essentially co-working spaces established to encourage employers to allow their staff to telework – from one of the government-funded smart hubs, of course.

This is an interesting move, but it relies on people who are already employed and already commuting to a major city centre or business district to utilise the smart hubs, which come at a cost to either the employee or their employer. The locations of the existing five pilot smart hubs in NSW are already located in major areas – Western City and the Central Coast; all areas with easy access to high speed internet services.

For more smarts to be rolled out in other regional areas – Newcastle is rumoured to be next – the existing ones need to prove they’re worth the investment, and that relies on numbers. A significant number of teleworkers, the emphasis here being on teleworkers and not the self-employed, need to be using the smart work hubs regularly enough for the NSW Government to rollout the next phase of smart work hubs.

But as I hinted before, this relies on people who already have access to high-speed internet services at their home and who are still within commuting distance to their place of work, to be willing to pay to telework regularly. Maybe the reason the Federal Government really scrapped its teleworking initiative had nothing to do with the NSW Government’s smart work hubs at all. Maybe it had more to do with it’s new-look NBN.

What the scaled back NBN really looks like

When the NBN was originally proposed, the original plan was to deploy high-speed-to-the-premises (FTTP) broadband for most Australians, but that was soon ditched by the Abbott Government for being too expensive. The new-look NBN now consists of a mixed network that prioritises fibre-to-the-node (FTTN) technology, which means that fibre optic cables are run to each internet node and the rest of the connection is completed through Telstra’s ageing copper wire network.

Under this NBN, the speed of your internet will vary on how far you live from the node. The further away you live, the slower it will be. But it’s okay, the Government has promised that the slowest NBN speeds could ever get to is 25 Megabits per second (Mbps), the same speed the US Federal Communications Commission defined as the absolute bare minimum to be able to call an internet connection broadband.

The other issue, of course, remains the copper wire network, which the Government now has to buy back off Telstra for $11bn (after the Howard Government sold it to Telstra a decade ago) when it discovered there was a lack of infrastructure in most regional areas of Australia that prevented many households from even connecting to the exchange, never mind the port – as well as some households in major cities.

So what now for teleworkers?

If you’re a teleworker and you live near a NSW Government smart work hub, use it. Certain hubs offer discounts to the NSW Government’s definition of a teleworker – someone who usually commutes to their workplace – while the self-employed can still reap the benefit of working from a smart hub, which are located near or offer child minding facilities, cafes, parking, and gyms.

If you were counting on the NBN to make it easier to work remotely or start your own business, don’t give up on it yet. The Government knows that the key to remaining competitive in the global marketplace is to have access to high-speed telecommunications networks, so the NBN is still, and will continue to be, a major priority.

If you’d like to start your own home-based business, but don’t know where to go for advice and support now that the Government has, seemingly, abandoned it’s teleworking initiative, visit the WorkFace website. WorkFace is an EzyLearn business partner made up of a network of teleworking professionals who have helped many EzyLearn graduates start their own home-based virtual assistant businesses.

Blogging is a Teleworking Task

The article you’re reading is part of the EzyLearn blog and this work can be done from anywhere in the world so it’s a popular outsourced task. If you want to explore blogging for your business or want to learn how it works so you can offer it as a service then discover our Blogging for Business Online Training Course.

 

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Live on the NSW Central Coast? The State Government wants you to be teleworking

NSW State Government Incentives for Teleworking

Nexus Smart Hub at Wyong to help people telework or be virtual assistantsThe State Government wants the NSW Central Coast to become the next Silicon Valley by encouraging commuters and freelancers to work from one of their two Smart Work Hubs located at Wyong and Gosford. The Smart Work Hubs are part of the State Government’s $1.5 million pilot program of co-working spaces, which are also part of the Government’s greater push to get more people teleworking.

I wrote a post recently [The NBN makes it easier to run a business from home] on how the NBN is making it easier for people to move out of the city and relocate to regional parts of Australia and still conduct a business from home that provides valuable services to businesses in our major cities. The NBN is just one aspect of the Government’s push to get more people teleworking, and their new Smart Work Hubs Pilot Program is another initiative that will encourage trade and investment in regional areas.

Teleworking Commuter hubs in five regions across NSW

The program is also operating in Western Sydney, with spaces located in Penrith, Rouse Hill and Oran Park, three areas that were identified as having a large volume of residents commuting to the Sydney CBD. The two spaces on the Central Coast are unique, however, because they’re the first co-working spaces of their kind in the region.

Co-working spaces have been around for some time in Sydney, originating in inner city suburbs like Chippendale and Ultimo, and spread quickly across the city as more people started businesses and began working remotely from home. Co-working spaces give home-based workers an alternative space to work from, as well as an opportunity to meet and collaborate with other like-minded individuals.

But while those inner city co-working spaces were established to encourage collaboration between creatives and start-ups, the NSW Government’s Smart Work Hubs Pilot Program has a slightly different focus, targeting commuters instead.

Member for Gosford Chris Holstein said that Gosford and Wyong been selected for the Smart Work Hubs Pilot Program due to the high volume of residents who commute to both Sydney and Newcastle for work.

“Around 40,000 residents commute outside the Central Coast region each day for work and this can have significant impact on their work/life balance,” Mr Holstein said.

“By establishing Smart Work Hubs in locations with large commuter populations, we can take advantage of the benefits of using technology to support smart working practices.

“New technology and high speed broadband are changing the way people work and NSW has much to gain by taking a leading position in this emerging landscape.”

State of the art facilities, with a 12-month government subsidy

If you’re a teleworker – that is, an employee of a business and not self-employed – then you’re eligible for a daily $20 workstation subsidy from the Government to be used at the Wyong Nexus Hub, which reduces the daily workstation rate down to just $15 and is available for the first twelve months of operation.

Although the Smart Work Hubs are aimed at commuters, freelancers, home-based workers, and small business owners are also encouraged to make use of the spaces, which have been guaranteed state government funding for twelve months. Although the self-employed aren’t eligible for a government subsidy, the day rate for booking a workstation at the Wyong hub has also been reduced to $15 for a limited time; the Gosford hub isn’t currently eligible a government subsidy.

Over the course of the twelve-month trial period, the hubs at each five locations are being monitored to determine their viability in other regions across NSW, and, if successful, the Government hopes to trial sites at other locations throughout NSW, including Newcastle and the Illawarra.

The Smart Work Hubs in both Gosford and Wyong are both been fitted out with high-speed broadband Internet, photocopiers and printers, video conferencing facilities, private offices, meeting rooms, a kitchen, and use a swipe card system to ensure security; the space at Wyong also has an onsite gym and childminding facilities for Hub customers, as well as a café and easy parking.

Why start a business at a Smart Work Hub?

Work hubs and co-working spaces are not only a cheaper alternative to renting an office, but with all the facilities they offer – gyms, childminding, etc – they’re also more convenient for home-based workers with kids. Many people who complete our training courses intend to start a business from home so they can spend more time with their kids, making a co-working space or work hub perfect for mums or dads who need time away from the kids while they get some work done.

Better than that, though, work hubs also have the added benefit of providing a space where you can network or collaborate with other small business owners. A work hub provides home-based workers with an environment not dissimilar to a regular workplace, but it’s one that’s more conducive to working productively – i.e., there’s less time spent complaining about the boss!

If you’ve been thinking of starting a home-based business, I don’t think the climate has ever been more start-up friendly than it is at the moment. Aside from the State Government’s Smart Work Hub Pilot Program, new small business owners can also take advantage of the Federal Government’s small business tax breaks, in addition to the NBN’s continued rollout of high-speed fibre optic Internet in regional areas across Australia.

If you’re looking for a low-risk new business opportunity, our partner National Bookkeeping has a number of licensee opportunities for people interested in starting a bookkeeping business. You can visit the National Bookkeeping website for more information or to register. Alternatively, read more about EzyLearn’s partnership with National Bookkeeping on our blog.

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Reinvent Your Career, Become an Independent Contractor

Who wants to work from home?

Ever since we started offering our MYOB training courses online, thousands of students have enrolled and learned how to become MYOB bookkeepers. Many of those students are mums, who were looking to become skilled in a job they could do from home.

In 2012, we added the Small Business Management and Start-up course to our online training platform, to help students to learn a new set of skills that would help them start their own businesses as independent contractors, so they can earn more money, work their own hours, work closer to home, and spend more time with the kids.

If you read this blog regularly, then you might recall that EzyLearn is a Teleworking Partner, an initiative of the Australian Government to get more people working from home, which I am a big believer in. In fact, many of EzyLearn’s team members are independent contractors, who regularly do their work from home.

Come to my Work-at-Home Seminar

So I am thrilled to announce that I will be speaking at the Reinvent Your Career Expo at the Sydney Showground in Homebush this August 30th and 31st! If you are in Sydney, I’d love to see you at the expo, where I’ll be speaking about EzyLearn’s transition into an online business, how we work with remote workers, and how you can find employment as an independent contractor.

Start a home based small business in bookkeeping, WH&S Safety and website design

I’ll also be talking about some other ‘turnkey’ opportunities we have available for entrepreneurs who want to start working straight away in the areas of work health and safety (contractor management), bookkeeping, and WordPress website design and internet marketing, as part of our soon-to-be announced Startup Academy.

For more information on the Reinvent Your Career Expo, you can visit their website, otherwise I will post an update in blog post shortly. I look forward to seeing you all there!