Taking Work from Home to the Next Level in the New Hybrid Working Environment

Published: Monday 21 September 2020

Following global disruption, the Queensland chapter recently delved into the reality and experience of working from home.

Dr Janet Buchan, Technical Adviser – Higher Education Policy with the Queensland Tertiary Admissions Centre (QTAC), walked us through her research ‘Developing Resilience and Managing Change in Technology – Enhanced Learning Environments’ while provide key COVID updates linking real experiences from workers who have rapidly adapted to change under a stressful condition. Download presentation.

The learning and working environments can be broken into five key variables: -

  1. Spatial
  2. Temporal
  3. Technological
  4. Social
  5. Connectedness

In this COVID world we find ourselves, we have combined technology-enhanced working environments with a distributed working environment and workforce.

I think we are all familiar with this, but in reality, how did we go and what’s worth keeping?

Following a survey conducted in June, which reviewed how over 57 workers transitioned the key learnings were: -

-       People and Social
Improved work-life balance which could work to people’s strengths, particularly if you’re not a morning person.

-       Connectedness and Wellbeing
We discovered how important to our wellbeing the social connectedness of an office is for our workers. The absence of this proved a strain, particularly in the instances where the depth of relationships weren’t built in person prior. However with the issues of COVID, 39% of people felt uncomfortable going to the city.

-       Time
All this considered, 80% of people found it easy to keep their normal working hours, while only 62% found it easy to separate work and home life.

-       Space
As our homes opened up to our colleagues, we all got to know the pets of zoom!

-       Productivity
With the benefits of time and wellbeing, most agree that there will be a combination of the office and home working environments. With a good schedule and with a focus on communication a 60/40 split could be achieved.

-       Technological
Most agreed that their technical set up at home was adequate for their needs, however this still left 9% of people who strongly disagreed.

I think we can all agree the COVID lockdowns have been stressful and unprecedented in our lifetime. However the positive aspects would be to drive stress reduction by empowering our workers to work around their family commitments and in alignment with their body clocks. Plus we get to spend more time with the dog and everyone loves that.

As with all things, there are negatives along side the positive. In this instance, Dr Janet found the people who thought this period was difficult tended to be those who were managing teams. Additionally, maintaining that positive office culture was challenging without being in the same space.  

So with all good things, we need balance, choice and empathy!

This insightful presentation was then supported by the observations of Helen Jamieson, Corinda State High School; Dr Natalie Wright, School of Design, QUT; Ian Davis, Catholic Education, Diocese of Cairns and Heide Smith, Gray Puksand.

A big thank you goes to Derek Bartels for the stella MC role and to the QLD chapter for a topical event. Plenty to reflect on as we head to 2021.

Daniel Smith

Past Chair, LE NSW

Image courtesy of QTAC