Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy has used the release of an independent report on teleworking to defend the government's National Broadband Network (NBN).
The broadband plan has been criticised for its cost: $43 billion, which divided by eight million Australian households, is virtually $5,000 per household.
The Access Economics report, called "Impacts pf Teleworking under the NBN," said Australia could save between $1.4 billion and $1.9 billion a year if 10 per cent of the workforce teleworked half the time.
Telework is work conducted outside designated places of business, and the focus of the report was on working from home.
Just six per cent of workers in Australia reported having teleworking arrangements of any form with their employer in 2006 (ABS 2009), the report said.
The international rate is higher, with 11 per of US employees teleworking at least one day per month (World at Work 2009), while eight European Union (EU) countries report that more than 10 per cent of workers were involved in telework 'a quarter of the time or more in 2005.
The Access Economics report says teleworking means money are saved in avoided travel, and office expenses and that telework increases workforce participation and makes possible to hire the best staff regardless of where they live.
The NBN will serve as an important enabler through the other technological services it unlocks, the report says.
For example, high-quality videoconferencing that is available with the high speeds and bandwidth and lower latency of the NBN will improve connectivity with remote workers.
Communications Minister Senator Stephen Conroy said the NBN was critical infrastructure for the twenty-first century and the Gillard Labor Government was ensuring all Australians had access to it.
"Effective teleworking will only be possible under an affordable, reliable and ubiquitous high-speed broadband network, which is what the NBN will deliver," Senator Conroy said.
"As well as the benefits for business and family life, the report also found that teleworking can help us reduce our environmental impact.
"Additional benefits from teleworking include reduced fuel consumption and less traffic congestion."
The report found that if 10 per cent of Australians teleworked 50 per cent of the time, we would reduce fuel consumption by 120 million litres each year, and reduce carbon emissions by 320,000 tonnes.
It would also reduce traffic at peak periods by up to 5 per cent, cutting congestion costs by $470 million a year.