Leaders and creative thinkers support a national smart work centres action plan

A group of 25 leaders and creative thinkers from a broad range of sectors in South East Queensland (SEQ), Sydney, Canberra and Melbourne recently met to discuss the implementation of a network of Smart Work Centres in Australia.

A key outcome was support for the establishment of a Smart Work Centre organisation to advise, advocate and problem solve how to accelerate smart work centres across city, urban and regional areas.

Regional Development Australia (RDA) hosted the Round Table Event, which was facilitated by Business Models Inc at CISCO’s head office on 29 April.

RDA Sunshine Coast CEO Russell Mason said the purpose of the event was to bring stakeholders together, build understanding, and formalise an action plan.

“This meeting follows the release of the research report Digital Work Hubs: An Activation Framework for South East Queensland in December 2013 which demonstrated the demand for collaborative workspaces across SEQ,” he said.

“This research has also established the key components required for success, based on best practice international and national models.”

RDA Digital Work Hub Project Coordinator Bronwyn Buksh said the broad sector attendance at the round table event, which included all levels of government, demonstrated the enthusiasm and support for stakeholders to work together to realise the economic and social benefits of smart work centres in our regional communities.

“Our next steps are to create an organisation, possibly called Smart Work Centres Australia, prepare a governance structure, budget and project timetable.”

Mr Mason said other states across Australia were moving to help with the necessary knowledge and market demand to attract private sector investment in this area.

“What started as an activation plan for SEQ quickly broadened with a network of key individuals and organisations essentially asking the same questions and gathering information.”

Similar research and initiatives which support the demand of smart work centres include:

  • An RDA Western Sydney commissioned report undertaken by the Institute for Sustainable Futures at the University of Technology Sydney ‘Smart Work Centres: An Analysis of Demand in Western Sydney’.
  • The Victorian Government Rural and Regional Committee report into the opportunities for telecommuters and local business to use remote work hubs, and further the research undertaken by the Centre for Workplace Leadership, University of Melbourne.
  • In December 2013 the NSW Government released an Expression of Interest statement for suitable applicants to establish and operate one or more hubs in Western Sydney and the Central Coast.
  • The Queensland Government is supporting a telework trial for public sector employees starting in mid-2014.
  • Local governments across SEQ (including the SEQ Council Of Mayors) has identified this as an emerging area to develop local knowledge, transfer skills, incubate local innovation and capture commuter knowledge workers within the region for part of the week.
  • The Australian Government, via the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development and Department of Communications, teleworking advisory board and resources including the Telework Toolkit.

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