Working in a New Normal

What a crazy old world we’re in right now… As Covid-19 has turned our lives upside-down we are confronted with rethinking the way we work, learn, live and relax. Personally, I have been working inside at home from the middle of March, with the assumption that it will still be another few months before we’re back to the way we were. Although this begs the question – do we want to go back to the way things were? Do we want the world to continue it was, or is this our opportunity for a re-evaluation of how our lives can be?

This new life situation has led to our office moving away from a studio environment to a distributed workplace. I have been working from home for seven weeks now. While there have been some challenges, there have also been some really interesting benefits to this new way of working. In no particular order:

1. A much much smaller commute. I am lucky my work room is located away from the main living space of my house, so at least I have some transition to start and finish the day. I am really enjoying the extra sleep-in due to the 45-min-less commute and having a smoother less rushed start to the day. Additionally being home in the daylight at the end of the day means I usually get the opportunity to have a sunset walk around the ‘burbs and relax from the work day while still getting home in good time for dinner, organising and relaxation. I could get used to this!

Ive been lucky to get out on these balmy autumn nights to watch the sunset.
Seeing the river in a quieter light these days.

2. Learning new technology. I ‘generally’ like to keep a pretty good work-life balance (hence the name of this blog!! 🙂) Because of this, I don’t spend a lot of time on technology at home, and it doesn’t really feature much in my life. So I don’t have the latest-model tablet or laptop (in fact I’m writing this on my old iPad 2 which I am ecstatic to see still turns on!). And before this while I had used Skype and Zoom and WebEx et al for work I hadn’t fully realised the possibilities of how nice and easy it was to share with friends and colleagues across the continent and across the seas. It’s been fun for me to extend myself to learn more new technologies and catch up with people we don’t get the chance to see in person often enough.

From Youtube, to Zoom, to Webex, to Microsoft Teams, to WhatsApp… Its certainly been a month of connections!!!

3. Sharing what we do. My work has three offices across Australia. Previously, although we shared work online we did it in three groups, the Brisbane team in one room, the Sydney team in one room and the Melbourne team in another room. Now, as we are all sharing, watching and collaborating as individuals, somehow the office seems much more intimate. We are all individually sharing projects on our screens, and can ask questions and have instant conversations that we are all a part of. It has given a really lovely feeling of connection to our large office, and provides a more levelling field for collaborating amongst our staff.

4. The uniform. Definitely one of my favourite parts of working from home is wearing comfortable clothes. I really struggle with temperature in most offices, and often end up wearing three or four layers to keep warm against the dreaded air-conditioning. And in Brisbane my commute means I’m walking to walk through the heat and humidity in standard work attire, which is just really not comfortable. Working at home now means I can wear shorts in the warmth of the early morning, and reach for the ugg boots when things get a bit cooler. It is so good to just not have to worry about carrying multiple layers everywhere and being comfortable, while looking professional. And selfishly in my office space, I only need to work about making myself thermally comfortable. I’m really enjoying that! I didn’t realise how time-consumingly distracting it was to be uncomfortable while you’re trying to work. So it’s good to no longer have this as an issue. I am not wearing pyjamas or tracksuit pants to work, so I’m still keeping the boundaries between work and home but I can do it in a bit more casual manner.

Shorts and ugg boots – the best work attire!

I’ve worked outside of the office occasionally many times over the years, marking up drawings on the bus, or typing up a spec on the couch. But this more formal form of working from home has been an interesting trial. While I’m not sure if I would want to do it full time forever, I’ve enjoyed exploring new modes of working and discovering the benefits of working creatively in a new space. Will be interesting to see what happens from here.

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