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Microsoft Says Tech Kept 3.2 Million Australians Employed During Coronavirus Pandemic

Research spearheaded by Microsoft has revealed businesses adopting new technology in 2020 helped keep 3.2 million Australians employed who would otherwise be jobless during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The research, commissioned by Microsoft and performed by consulting firm AlphaBeta, also found Aussie companies have implemented as much new tech this year than they have in the past decade.

When countless businesses were forced to close their doors six months ago, digital technology which allowed remote work kept many companies afloat and their staffers working during the crisis.

The report – How technology strengthened Australian business during COVID and beyond – reveals that a positive effect of the pandemic has been the adoption and experimentation of technologies that led to more resilient businesses and more productive workers.

“By enabling remote working, collaboration technologies helped to keep 3.2 million Australians working who would otherwise have been unable to continue to work safely,” the report reads.

“It also prevented 1.6 million Australians from potentially being furloughed from their jobs with the introduction of social distancing rules.”

While the report does not neglect to mention Australia is suffering its highest unemployment rate in 30 years, it does indicate the rate could be significantly worse without the adoption of digital technology.

“In a sense, we’re lucky from an employment perspective that COVID hit in 2020, and not the year 2000. Otherwise, more than 3 million people would have been unable to work and comply with the social distancing regulations, and the employment impacts would have been much, much larger,” AlphaBeta director Dr Andrew Charlton said.

It also found almost 9 out of 10 businesses adopted some kind of new technology during the COVID crisis which helped them cushion the impact on sales, productivity and employment.

Commenting on the research findings, Steven Worrall, Managing Director, Microsoft Australia said: “Microsoft has been greatly encouraged by the level of economic activity that has been maintained through the pandemic and the role digital technology has played in enabling millions of Australians to continue to do their job and stay productive.”

Videoconferencing tools was the most significant technology businesses ramped up during COVID, with more than 60 per cent of firms using it regularly.

“Videoconferencing is expected to continue to be used more by 45% of firms; filesharing is expected to continue to be used more by 27% of Australian firms. VPN & remote access is expected to continue to be used more by 32% of Australian firms,” the report also states.

The report is based on data sources including the Business Characteristics Survey of the ABS and a survey of Australian businesses experience through COVID.

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