Maksym Kapliuk -

Broadband access drives New Zealand remote working to be permanent fixture

Covid-19 crisis pushes Kiwis to do more online and the changes are sticking, according to research from ANZ telco and media research and consulting firm

Research by New Zealand telecommunications infrastructure provider Chorus has revealed that even though the country has been an exemplar in how to deal with a pandemic, Covid-19 has pushed New Zealanders to do more online – and the changes are sticking. 

The broadband behavioural survey, conducted by Venture Insights, an ANZ telco and media research and consulting company, was commissioned by Chorus in October 2020 as a follow-up to a previous survey conducted in April 2020. The aim of both surveys was to determine how Covid-19 has changed online behaviours and which of these behaviours are continuing as New Zealand comes out of lockdown. The survey covered broadband usage, working from home, telehealth usage and online shopping behaviour.

It found that remote working remained high over the months. Before the pandemic, 28% of respondents had worked from home and the April study revealed a significant increase in working from home (59% of respondents), and 52% were working from home in October.

Venture said this suggested that many people were continuing to work from home even as the virus spread eased and this reflects their preferences, with 51% indicating they wanted to work more from home in the future. Nearly two-thirds (64%) of respondents strongly agreed or agreed that the experience of working from home has positively changed the way they think about managing their work/life flexibility.

In another key use case, telehealth, the survey found that such usage remained high and was unchanged since April. Just under a quarter (24%) of respondents had used telehealth services before Covid-19; this increased to 40% in April and has remained stable since. One-third of respondents said they would like to use online telehealth services more in the future after the lockdown.

The research also revealed a 6% increase in the number of regular online shoppers in October, at the expense of shoppers who had used online shopping just once or twice. Overall, 71% of respondents are using online shopping now.

At the heart of these trends was the importance of broadband. “People’s assessment of the importance of broadband has permanently risen, and this is stimulating a move to faster plans,” said David Kennedy, head of research at Venture Insights.

In April, only 5% of respondents had changed, or had plans to change their broadband. But by October, 13% had gone ahead and upgraded their broadband. A significant segment (11%) of respondents who had said they didn’t need to upgrade their broadband because of Covid-19 had in fact done so by October.

Speed was the leading factor for survey respondents to upgrade their broadband, and there has been a trend towards fibre during the lockdown. A majority of respondents were now connected to fibre (65%) and have unlimited data plans (69%), which are up by 9% and 6%, respectively, compared with the April survey.

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