- The share of Australian job postings mentioning ‘work from home’ or similar phrases is at a record high.
- However, remote opportunities are below their peak in 35% of occupational categories, led by those where remote work is most challenging. There is no sign of moderation among those occupations with the highest remote posting share.
- Reduced competition for talent, owing to a more challenging economic environment, could lead to fewer WFH opportunities next year.
Australian jobseekers remain keenly interested in remote work and, in a historically tight labour market, employers are still happy to indulge them. Although we are almost two years removed from the last pandemic lockdowns, a record high of more than one-in-eight Australian job postings mention phrases like ‘work from home’ (WFH) or ‘work remotely’.
However, a key question is whether employers will stick with WFH or hybrid working arrangements as Australia’s labour market cools. A historically tight labour market has given many employers little choice in whether to offer WFH or hybrid work, but will employers be so accommodating if labour market conditions shift in their favour?
Indeed data point to four distinct dynamics underpinning the emergence of WFH and hybrid working arrangements since the pandemic began. These four groups — ‘Low remote’, ‘Low → limited remote’, ‘Low → high remote’ and ‘High remote’ — are based on how common these remote opportunities are and how much this has changed since the pandemic began.
These dynamics may play an important role in how remote work evolves as the labour market cools. Those employers who embraced WFH or hybrid arrangement, who transformed their operations, are more likely to stick with remote work. Whereas those employers who were more tentative or reluctant are more likely to return to normal operation — in fact, many already are.
Remote work remains popular in Australia
At mid-year, 12.6% of Australian job postings on Indeed feature keywords related to remote or hybrid work in their job descriptions or job titles, up from 12.0% a year ago and 4.4% just prior to the pandemic beginning.
On the jobseeker side, 2.5% of Australian searches on the Indeed platform are for remote work — or one-in-every-forty searches — almost six times higher than pre-pandemic levels. Now 2.5% of searches might not seem like a lot until you remember there are millions of different search terms that jobseekers use to find a job. Outside of generic terms such as ‘full-time’ or ‘part-time’, searching directly for remote work is one of the most common ways that jobseekers engage with job search platforms.
In the first half of 2023, insurance roles have the highest share of postings mentioning remote work at 34.3%, followed by software development (33.1%), IT operations & help desk (31.6%), civil engineering (29.4%) and mathematics (29.0%). Almost 40% of occupational categories have a remote posting share above 20%, with nearly two-thirds above 10%.
While the remote posting share for most occupations remains elevated — either at or near its peak in most cases — we are beginning to see a moderation in occupations where remote work either isn’t practical long-term or where it may have been more organisationally challenging.
Remote work opportunities vary considerably by occupation
The ability to WFH varies considerably across occupations with regard to how common these opportunities are and how much this has changed since the pandemic began.
Broadly speaking, we can classify each occupation into one of four categories.
- Low Remote: Occupations where remote work isn’t typically viable, such as childcare, driver and food preparation. The remote posting share is low and little changed since the pandemic began.
- Low → limited remote: Occupations that tentatively embraced remote work arrangements, such as nursing and education. The remote posting share has increased but to a limited degree.
- Low → high remote: Occupations where WFH was once rare but is now commonplace, such as media & communications, marketing and accounting, compared to pre-pandemic levels. The remote posting share has increased significantly.
- High remote: Occupations where remote work opportunities were high both before and after the pandemic, such as civil & industrial engineering, software development and IT operations. The remote posting share has increased considerably but off an elevated starting point.
More information on what occupations fit into each category can be found in the methodology section.
While the remote posting share for most occupations is elevated compared to pre-pandemic levels, through the first half of 2023 they were below their peak in 35% of occupational categories.
Among ‘Low remote’ occupations, the remote posting share was below its peak in almost two-thirds of occupations and for ‘Low → limited remote’ it was down in half of occupations. The largest declines were observed in personal care & home health and sports, both down 3.5 percentage points from their peak.
By comparison, the remote posting share among ‘Low → high remote’ occupations is below its peak in just 14% of occupations, reflecting a 2.6 percentage point decline in the remote share of arts & entertainment postings and a modest fall in media & communications and sales.
And among traditionally ‘High remote’ occupations, the remote posting share is still at its peak for every single one.
Will this continue next year?
There is a growing expectation that the Australian labour market will soften over the next 12 months, consistent with a more challenging economic environment. We have certainly seen that through a 25% decline in Indeed job postings over the first half of the year.
Australian employers have been more than happy to offer remote work opportunities to attract candidates. The key question is whether that will continue in a labour market that isn’t plagued by widespread talent and skill shortages. Will employers be so accommodating when they no longer have to be?
In all likelihood, the ability to WFH will prove temporary — or greatly diminished — in some occupations but more permanent in others. Employers who only tentatively embraced WFH arrangements are the most likely to change course — in fact many already are. But those employers that dramatically changed their work structure and systems to accommodate remote work are perhaps more committed to these new arrangements and less likely to change course, even if labour market conditions cool.
A detailed methodology for Indeed’s Hybrid/Remote Tracker can be found here.
We identify job postings as open to remote work if the job title or description includes terms like “work from home”, “telecommute”, “remote work” or similar language, or if the location is explicitly listed as remote. These postings include both permanent and temporarily remote jobs, though employers often don’t specify. We calculate the remote share of postings on a daily basis.
The following table shows which of the four remote categories each occupational sector was allocated: