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Over half of New Zealand's internet workforce want more remote work
Wed, 21st Feb 2024

New research conducted by InternetNZ reveals that over half (52%) of New Zealand citizens capable of working from home via the internet wish to do so more frequently. This study, which explores perspectives on various internet-related subjects, has been tracking remote working habits since the inception of the pandemic. It highlighted that 61%, or nearly three in five New Zealanders, hold jobs that can be carried out from home, and more than half of them aspire to increase their home-working days.

The primary obstacle stopping people from working remotely more often stems from their employers mandating a certain number of in-office workdays. According to the research, additional common hindrances include employer perceptions of remote working and the necessity for in-person meetings. Vivien Maidaborn, InternetNZ's CEO, spoke on these findings, stating, "The Internet was the key to many businesses being able to operate during the pandemic through remote working. Unsurprisingly, many people who adjusted to working from home are reluctant to change back."

Maidaborn also brought attention to the novelty of this shift, adding, "From an employment point of view, we’re just beginning to figure out how to design communications, health and safety, and productivity to make the most of what the internet offers." The yearly Internet Insights research delves into a variety of topics, including online safety, AI, concerns regarding internet use, and of course, internet usage itself.

Among the key findings, the report unveils the significant amount of personal time the nation spends online. More than a quarter (27%) of New Zealanders spend five or more hours on the Internet for personal use. The majority (63%) spend two to four hours a day using the Internet outside of work and nearly half (48%) of their leisure internet time is spent on social media. Following social media, the most popular online activities include email (40%) and streaming services (39%).

The research also noted a change in social media habits. Daily usage of major platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter has seen a decline. However, Facebook Messenger and TikTok use remains constant. The Internet's impact on cultural beliefs and values appears divisive among New Zealanders, with 37% believing it has a positive effect, and 28% expressing a negative perception. Women tend to view the impact more negatively than men.

The report also highlights concern about the negatives of internet use outweighing the positives, a number that has seen a decline from 84% to 80% since 2022. This figure has demonstrated a decreasing trend since 2019. The percentage is even lower for Māori (75%) and Pasifika peoples (63%). Additionally, nearly one in five New Zealanders report experiencing online harm or harassment, a number that increases to 24% for people aged 18-29, 25% for Māori, and 29% for individuals with a long-term disability or impairment.

Lastly, the report indicates that New Zealanders have concerns about artificial intelligence (AI). Among those who know 'at least' a little about AI, 42% expressed they are more worried than excited about it.