The anywhere economy is key to driving Australian productivity and economic growth
New research reveals Australia is leading female workforce participation globally, but must step-up when it comes to investing in digitalisation and innovation
New research undertaken by think tank Economist Impact (in collaboration with DocuSign) reveals that the ‘anywhere economy’—the ability to do business anywhere, anytime— will contribute a 9% increase to Australian productivity.
According to DocuSign’s research, the anywhere economy is key to helping to break down diversity, geographical, and accessibility barriers. It will also help us reach our productivity goals by 2030.
Accelerated massively by the COVID pandemic, the ‘anywhere economy’ is the flexibility brought by electronic devices, internet connectivity and digital platforms that allows communication, collaboration and transactions to take place anywhere and at any time. It has upended the way hundreds of millions of people live and work around the globe.
The research, undertaken by think tank Economist Impact, reveals insights from two global surveys across ten countries to gauge the sentiments and experiences among consumers and executives in the U.S., Australia, Japan, France, Germany, Ireland, the UK, Brazil, Mexico and Canada, as well as new econometric models that forecast the potential impacts of the anywhere economy in these countries.
As the Anywhere Economy expands, productivity is set to grow by 9% in Australia from 2021 to 2030—placing it slightly behind global counterparts in the developed world, such as the US (10%) and the UK (12%). This theme carries through to Australia’s economic output, with GDP growth from 2022 to 2030 averaging 2%.
The findings offer a window into how Australia is faring in the race to combat challenges in productivity, cost of living, and an ever-growing talent shortage.
Driving economic growth through enhanced productivity and innovation
Compared to global counterparts, Australia ranks low in digitalisation investment across R&D expenditure and cybersecurity reinforcement.
Only a third of Australian executives surveyed selected “investment and spending, and innovation” as one of the top three areas impacted by digitalisation in their industry in the past decade: This is while over 40% of executives surveyed overall have chosen that as one of the top three areas of impact on their industry in the last decade.
Cybersecurity practices are falling behind: Only 22.1% of Australian executives say they have significantly increased their cybersecurity practices—falling behind global peers such as the US (32.9%) and the UK (36.3%).
Australia is not prioritising AI: While global counterparts said they would significantly increase their use of artificial intelligence to automate processes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic (Brazil - 33.9%, UK – 25%, Canada - 31.2%), this was only true for 15.6% of surveyed Australian executives.
Australian companies lag behind peers in R&D spending: Australian business expenditure in R&D is estimated to increase by 41% between 2021-2030, falling just short of the US (44%) and UK (51%).
Flexibility of work is increasing productivity: 75.3% of Australian executives believe their ability to work at any time and any place has increased productivity and/or efficiency.
Addressing the talent crisis and workforce participation
As Australia’s workforce becomes more diverse, the anywhere economy is helping to break down geographical and accessibility barriers.
Australia leads in female workforce participation among the ten countries studied: The ‘anywhere economy’ is forecasted to bring an additional 25 million women into the labour force of the ten studied countries in 2030, supporting an estimated 60% female labour force participation rate (LFPR). However, Australia is well ahead, with a LFPR of 62.1% as of 2021, with this expected to reach 65.7% in 2030.
Diversification through remote work: Almost two-thirds (62.4%) of Australian executives report that the anywhere economy has positively impacted the diversity of their workforce.
Tackling the skills shortage: 74.1% of Australian executives agree that the ‘anywhere economy’ has had a positive impact on their ability to hire from a wider pool of candidates.
Extending opportunities for older workers: Australia’s LFPR for adults 65+ (15.1%) is in line with the overall average (15.1%)—a trend that is projected to continue through 2030 (Australia – 19.4%, overall average – 19.7%). While the rising cost of living pressures are forcing Australians to work longer, the anywhere economy is opening up access to older workers via hybrid working and digital means.
Shifting economic power among rural and urban environments
As the cost of living in Australia’s major cities rises, businesses are increasingly shifting their workplaces and operations to regional areas.
Offices are on the move: 24.7% of Australian executives surveyed reported their offices moved from large cities to suburban or rural areas—the largest percentage among the ten countries surveyed (17% on average).
Rural employment rates are rising: Migration to rural areas is forecasted to bring economic growth via creating an additional 2.6 million jobs globally in the ten studied countries in the year 2030 alone. Rural employment rates for those ages 15+ will rise from 57% in 2021 to 59% in 2030 in the ten studied countries. Australia is among the highest markets seeing this growth, with a 60.4% rural employment rate in 2021 that is estimated to increase to 62.2% in 2030.
More satellite offices are being leveraged: Among executives surveyed, one-third of companies reported that they have invested more in satellite offices to support workers over the past five years, while one-quarter of Australian executives surveyed (26%) have jumped on the trend.
Paul Cross, VP of Customer Success, APJ, DocuSign, commented on the findings, “The Anywhere Economy presents enormous opportunities to combat the growing challenges of productivity, cost of living, and talent shortages we’re seeing in Australia right now. And while Australia has proven to be an exemplar in leveraging a diverse workforce, there is more to be done from a digitalisation perspective to drive long-term productivity—and in turn, economic growth.”
The full report with both local and global findings can be viewed here.