‘I feel so much better’: Employees ready to work from home more often – Sydney Morning Herald - Freelance Rack

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Sunday, May 31, 2020

‘I feel so much better’: Employees ready to work from home more often – Sydney Morning Herald

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She had never worked from home, but has proved to herself — and her bosses — that it’s not only possible, but practical.

Ms Treadwell’s days used to start at 4.30am. After a session at a gym, she would take two trains for an hour-and-a-half commute from her home in Cronulla to her office in Parramatta, where she works for Evolve Housing.

“I feel, within myself, so much better,” she said of her new schedule.

“This was a whole new thing for me that I didn’t think I could do, but funnily enough, it’s been really, really good.”

“I have found a few little things challenging — just the isolation part of it, missing that work camaraderie and just being around people. I run the social club at work, so we don’t have all that fun stuff anymore, but we’ll just plan for bigger and better things when it comes along.”

Ms Treadwell would like to work “at least two or three days” a week at home in future.

Nine in 10 respondents to the study said the most significant benefit of working remotely was “not having to commute”. Other benefits included greater flexibility (68 per cent) nd financial savings due to reduced travel (65 per cent).

Dr Hopkins said the need for such a large number of employees to work from home had removed a “significant hurdle” to remote work among firms which had previously resisted the trend.

“They have had to adjust to an online workforce,” he said.

Dr Hopkins, who studied remote working patterns prior to the pandemic, said the attitudes of managers was extremely important in determining work from home practices because they ultimately made decisions on workplace flexibility.

The survey, conducted last month, found 62 per cent of managers believed their teams would work “more” from home after the COVID-19 event while 14 per cent said staff would do “significantly more” work from home.

Aspire Housing chief executive Lyall Gorman had been considering leasing new office space before the pandemic, fearing the company had outgrown its headquarters. Now he can’t imagine a time in the future when all of their 115 staff would be under the same roof — except, maybe, for the work Christmas party.

“It’s a massive cultural shift for the organisation,” Mr Gorman said. “The shift has been fascinating … effective and efficient and in some cases more productive. I wouldn’t ever see us moving to 100 per cent working from home — I think you lose some of the really vital cultural components of organisations, socialising, the sense of teamwork … but is there a hybrid model that can serve the needs of both? I believe there is.”

The survey also revealed downsides to working from home. About six in 10 remote workers identified “blurred boundaries” between work and home as a challenge. More than half also said there were additional distractions at home (55 per cent) while 47 per cent said they had more difficulty switching off after work.

Dr Hopkins and Professor Bardoel interviewed 272 commuters about their work-from-home behaviour during the pandemic period.

David Borger, executive director of the western Sydney business chamber, said the crisis would have a long-term effect on commuting patterns.

“This crisis has probably cut the head off the public transport peak for Sydney for some years, because we’re unlikely to see the same numbers of people cramming into trains in peak hours in the next two or three years,” he said.

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Matt Wade is a senior economics writer at The Sydney Morning Herald.

Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.

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