For Mount Gambier-based Water Licensing Officer Greg Mott there are lots of advantages to working from home but it works best when combined with time in the office.
1. Describe your work from home set up?
I work from my home office which is also the spare room. It’s at the top of some stairs so it gets very cold – I live in Mt Gambier in what’s known as a ‘Mt Gambier stone house’ so it gets freezing cold in winter. However the room has a view and feels quite open. I’m also right next to the kitchen so I don’t feel shut away. I have a pretty decent computer so I didn’t need to take any IT equipment from work. In fact my computer at home is much better than my computer at work. I also have an ergonomic chair and it’s much better for my back than the one I have in the office. So you could say I’ve up-scaled!
My manager made me take a camera because I didn’t have one, so that when we have meetings he can see me instead of just hearing me – perhaps to make sure that I’m presentable.
2. How did you manage the transition from working in the office to working at home?
This is the first time I’ve ever worked from home so it was definitely quite an adjustment. None of us really knew how it was going to look when we went into it, it was learning on the go. But it’s worked out pretty well so far.
My work gets emailed to me by my senior. I speak to our senior and team leader, whether by phone or Teams, once a day. We don’t really have set times for a lot of it, I’ll be speaking to people in the office almost every day.
I did actually go into the office on the last two days of the financial year and in the past couple of months I’ve been going in once a week on average, to pick up files and drop things off.
So I’ve still been keeping up that social interaction which is probably just as well because when we were fully isolating, I did find myself talking to the dog a lot. I think working from home would be much harder without a pet because with a dog you’ve got that bit of company. He also loves the attention, so he’s been the real winner out of this whole situation.
3. Has working from home changed the way you work?
I find I tend to work in bursts. I’ll do a lot of work over a period and then I’ll take a 10 minute break. That’s what’s been good about working from home, I’ve been able to sit down and work for two to three hours and get a bunch of stuff done and then I can go and put a load of washing on, do the dishes, throw the ball with the dog for five minutes. Instead of taking a half hour or hour lunchbreak, I’ll just take a few 10 minute breaks over the course of the day.
In my role there’s only so much you can do from home, there are certain jobs that have to be done from the office. It’s just about planning when you’re able to do which type of work from which location. So when I’m working from home I’m not actually mixing up my workload like I would do if I was in the office.
Another thing that’s changed is that my work has gone digital, rather than doing an assessment for a well and printing it out, I can just send it through to my senior via email.
4. What have you missed about working in the office?
The main thing is the people, just that social interaction. Particularly at the start of all this when I was in complete isolation and I barely left the house for three weeks, it was lonely even with the dog.
I do believe that you need to be working with people day in day out to build up great working relationships. If I had just started I wouldn’t feel as comfortable just messaging my co-workers on Teams Chat or calling them up.
5. What have been the upsides of working from home?
The big thing is work-life balance. I just feel better. You don’t get so burnt out. I can work and take five minutes to put washing on, do the dishes, and that way at the end of the day you don’t have to come home and do housework or have to worry so much about it on the weekend. So when my partner’s at home I get to spend more time with her, and I get to spend more time with the dog which is really good.
I also do most of the cooking so it’s been good for me to try out new meals that don’t take long to prepare but take two hours to cook, which you can’t do when you’re in the office.
6. What will you take away from this whole experience – professionally and personally?
I think the big thing is realising that you are able to work from home and that’s what a lot of people are taking away. A lot of people who have never worked from home before have done so during COVID-19 and they’re finding it’s possible.
Obviously it’s not something I would want to do all of the time but if it became available in the future for people who need it, then that would be great. There’s been times where I’ve just had a cold, and if I was working in the office full-time I wouldn’t have gone into work, but I was still able to work and be productive.
In that situation it would be great to have the option of working from home rather than having to either call in sick or go into work and spread the illness to others. So I think the flexibility is the main thing and people realising that working from home is a viable option.
Especially now that the IT has become so accessible. Before you had to get a special key to use Citrix at home, or a laptop which I didn’t have, whereas now we can use an app to log into Citrix remotely and it’s easy.