• A recent survey by Docusign shows that the ‘anywhere economy’ raises productivity
  • Stockhead reached out to Paul Cross, VP Customer Success at DocuSign 
  • A list of Anywhere Economy stocks on the ASX


Work-from-Home (WFH) companies listed on the ASX became the epicentre and experienced a surge during the height of the pandemic in 2021.

Stocks like data centres & networks, cybersecurity, home office furnishings, and telehealth rose to new heights that year, driven by the shift towards online and digitisation.

But with workers now coming back to the office, those stocks have pulled back significantly over the past 12 months.

So, has the WFH story finally come to an end, or do these stocks represent a good dip buying opportunity for investors?

The consensus out there is that remote working is going to play a prominent and permanent feature of the modern work landscape.

A survey conducted by the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS) in 2021 showed that 80% of Aussie businesses will continue to permit employees to work remotely over the longer term.

More recent research by global giant Docusign and Economist Impact reveals that the ‘anywhere economy’ – which refers to the ability to do business anywhere, anytime – will contribute to a 9% increase in Australian productivity from 2021 to 2030.

According to the research, around 75% of Australian executives surveyed believe their ability to work at any time and any place has increased their productivity and efficiency.

Not only that, the ability to work remotely may also lead to an increase in female and elderly participation in the workforce, while helping to lift rural employment rates.


Is remote working here to stay?

Paul Cross, VP Customer Success at DocuSign, said the trend toward working remotely had actually been set in motion way before Covid, only to be rapidly accelerated during the pandemic.

“The digital connectivity, which really drives all of this, has been around for a couple of decades,” Cross told Stockhead.

“And the anywhere economy was building on top of that, but pre-pandemic, you’d say it was very much in the early adopter phase.”

Cross acknowledged the excitement has somewhat receded over the past year as people were asked to return to the office. But he believes many parts of remote working will remain, and the parts that will remain are the ones where it works better.

Regardless of what works better, surveys have clearly shown that being able to work from anywhere makes people more productive and happy from a work perspective.

“They found that they could do more, with less time. So that’s been making its way out all over the economy, and I think there are incredible examples of that,” said Cross.


Technologies that support the ‘anywhere economy’

Technology will obviously have to play a major role in the anywhere economy, especially those that enable offline activities to be brought online.

“DocuSign was at the forefront of that, taking paper agreements and turning them into something that is digital,” Cross explained.

Platforms that bring people together to communicate like Zoom, or those that allow people to share ideas, as well as cybersecurity solutions, connectivity, and computer chip makers, will be highly sought after.

“Importantly, this will also enable companies to hire from a wider talent pool, as companies will no longer be limited to one physical location to get talent.”

People living in rural areas would be able to seek remote work, while new parents could find more opportunities.

While Australia leads in female workforce participation among the 10 countries studied by Docusign, the anywhere economy is forecasted to bring an additional 25 million women into the labour force by 2030.

“This flexibility creates opportunities for women to set their own hours, deliver their work, but then fulfil some of the other obligations at home as well,” Cross said.


Australia lags behind

But there’s also some startling data from the survey.

Compared to global counterparts, Australia ranks low in digitisation investment across R&D expenditure.

Only a third of Australian executives surveyed selected “investment and spending, and innovation” as one of the top three areas impacted by digitisation in their industry in the past decade.

Cybersecurity practices are also falling behind, and only 22% of Australian executives say they have significantly increased their cybersecurity practices — falling behind global peers.

Meanwhile according to the survey, Australia is not prioritising Artificial Intelligence (AI) investments.

While global counterparts said they would significantly increase their use of AI to automate processes as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, this was only true for 15.6% of surveyed Australian executives.

“But I believe that as AI is becoming commercialised, we will see it becoming more embedded into places that we’re already using,” says Cross.

In Australia, Cross says that we are seeing the beginnings of AI embedded in all sorts of areas.

“Areas like mining technology or agricultural technology. Out there, we’re seeing artificial intelligence is being built into the tools that those industries use.”

“I think the bigger question, rather than embedding and making things more productive, is what new products or services that AI can perform that we can’t yet imagine today,” Cross added.


Could these ASX stocks be sought after again?

The list below is by no means exhaustive, but gives a picture of where the stocks might be in the segments as we head into the anywhere economy future:


TICKER COMPANY Share price 1-Day move % % 1-YEAR RETURN Market cap
NNG Nexion Group 0.02 0.00 -83.01 $2,855,772
DXN DXN 0.00 0.00 -71.43 $3,442,630
AR9 Archtis 0.07 -4.11 -54.84 $20,833,081
TNT Tesserent 0.05 0.00 -63.70 $66,354,924
WHK Whitehawk 0.03 -2.86 -65.83 $8,777,697
HFY Hubify Ltd 0.03 8.00 -48.08 $12,403,407
TPW Temple & Webster 4.92 1.76 16.47 $593,847,061
NCK Nick Scali 9.39 -1.98 6.95 $775,980,000
LME Limeade Inc. 0.15 0.00 -55.38 $37,271,018
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AI related stocks

BrainChip Holdings (ASX:BRN)

Brainchip is involved in neuromorphic computing, a type of AI that simulates the functionality of the human neuron and is working on commercialisation of its Akida chip.

Akida basically mimics the human brain to analyse only essential sensor inputs at the point of acquisition, processing data with efficiency, precision, and economy of energy.

BRN says keeping machine learning local to the chip, independent of the cloud, also dramatically reduces latency while improving privacy and data security.

Archer Materials (ASX:AXE)

Not an AI stock per se, Archer is the ASX’s only quantum computing stock.

The company is focused on progressing its 12CQ quantum computing qubit process chip (12CQ chip) and its ‘lab-on-a-chip’ biochip.

AXE’s 12CQ chip is being developed to enable mobile quantum computing devices.


Cybersecurity stocks

archTIS (ASX:AR9)

This data-centric security technology company will prevent malicious and accidental loss of information for its clients.

The company has continued its market expansion recently, entering into new sales regions in the US, Europe, and Singapore.

It also has a contract with the Australian Department of Defence.

Tesserent (ASX:TNT)

The company’s stated mission is to be the sovereign cybersecurity provider of choice for the protection of Australia and New Zealand’s digital assets.

It has over 1,000 customers in its books, and is currently the largest cyber security provider for the Australian federal government.

It also works with other sectors such as the energy and financial services sectors.


Home office furnishings stocks

Temple & Webster (ASX:TPW)

This company is a pure play online retailer, and its sales surged significantly during lockdown periods.

TPW has invested heavily in its technology, launching its artificial intelligence-generated room ideas on the iOS app platform.

The app could become a game changer as more people transition to online purchases for furnishings.

Nick Scali (ASX:NCK)

We’ve all seen Nick Scali’s retail stores, but its online platform is starting to gain popularity, with online sales soaring during the pandemic.

The company has plans to expand its ANZ footprint by opening dozens of new showrooms across both markets over the coming years.


The views, information, or opinions expressed in the interview in this article are solely those of the interviewee and do not represent the views of Stockhead.

Stockhead has not provided, endorsed or otherwise assumed responsibility for any financial product advice contained in this article.