A new survey of nearly 1000 Australian tech gurus has revealed that most would rather be in the office than working remotely from the beach, and that their biggest pet peeve is pointless meetings, not inane troubleshooting queries from colleagues.
The August poll from recruitment firm Ambition found that 58 per cent of IT workers count meetings that achieve nothing as their top office annoyance, while 21 per cent listed unrealistic expectations from managers as their greatest gripe.
Nearly one third — 31 per cent — said that they feel most productive in open-plan offices, compared to 14 per cent who said they are most productive when working from home.
Andrew Cross, managing director of Ambition's technology division, told AAP that growing tech literacy means IT professionals face fewer agonising queries about why the mouse is doing that squiggly thing again, or how to un-send the highly personal picture that just hit 300 inboxes across the building.
"It used to be, but with the way that consumer technology has advanced over the last three to five years, even, the level of the technological skill of the average consumer has risen so much that you don't get those queries as much," he told AAP.
"It's a much more complex-type scenario that people will come to IT support with."
He said that the socially incompetent geek trope, popularised on the small screen in shows like The IT Crowd, is well out of date.
"The expectation now is that they've got to be better communicators," Cross said.
"IT workers were the ones we thought would want to stay on the beach, log on to a laptop and do their work remotely — well, they are the ones who have come back and said, 'actually, I prefer to do my work in an office environment'."
Are they suckers for punishment, or does the average technology worker simply crave the human touch?
The answer could be more pragmatic, Cross said.
"Because of the way the economy is, and the fear about being seen to be productive and delivering value — you know, out of sight is out of mind," he said.
"Perhaps being in the office and being seen to be productive is a way of ensuring your value."
These results seem to devalue one of the key benefits of the National Broadband Network (NBN): the ability for people to work from home, which the government has said could cut down the time that Australians spend commuting, and raise productivity. It also seems to fly in the face of the current corporate trend towards mobility, with IT departments trying to enable their employees to work anytime, anywhere on their device of choice, which has raised the spectre of how to secure corporate information.
According to a recent CIO survey carried out by ZDNet Australia, most CIOs in Australia are supporting some form of policy to allow employees to bring their own mobile devices to work.
Suzanne Tindal contributed to this article.