Working from home has seen Science Partnerships Team ICT Coordinator Robin Green develop stronger relationships with her teammates. Sometimes distance can bring people together.
1. Describe your work from home set up?
In that first week of working from home my partner and I went to Officeworks and bought desks and chairs for a shared office. However, the shared office space we set up didn’t really work because we both needed to make a lot of phone calls and have meetings so we ended up interrupting each other constantly.
After a couple of days I moved to the dining room table which is now permanently covered with my work. I also work outside on our deck some mornings. It’s green and leafy, so it’s a lovely spot to work in and has actually been quite soul-nourishing.
I’ve also got a thirteen year old son. He’s back at school now but he was home from school for a month in his own office. We’re spread out across the house and it works quite well. For the most part we say good morning and then don’t see each other again until our work has finished for the day.
We decided as a family that we would all dress in work/school clothes while working from home, it sets the tone and helps separate working and school hours from relaxation time, but I’ve managed to avoid wearing heels which is nice!
2. How have you managed the transition from working in the office to working at home?
The first couple of weeks I loved it, then I went through a few weeks of feeling really lonely and craving the face-to-face connection of my work colleagues. Now I’ve come full circle, and I’m loving it again. At first I kept looking around at things that needed cleaning in the house, so I bought a robot vacuum and mop! Problem solved.
The best part has been how supportive our Science Partnerships Team has been, and how I’ve gotten to know them so much better. Our manager Jennie Fluin, set up a practice where we check-in with each other every morning via Teams chat. It’s been awesome because I’m hearing from my team regularly, I’m more across their work priorities, and we can help each other more.
Every Monday morning our team also has a face-to-face meeting in Teams, so we can see each other and get updates about everything we’re working on. We also try and have virtual Friday night drinks every other week where we check in, debrief, and also have a laugh. Sometimes partners and kids also join in.
3. Has working from home changed the way you work?
Overall working from home really suits me because I find it easier to concentrate at home than in an open plan office.
My start and finish times have changed somewhat, but I like the flexibility that brings with it. I’m able to be more responsive to work priorities and structure my working hours to suit the business needs on any given day or week.
When we’re in the office environment, it’s easy to just come in, say hello, sit down and work, stand up and say goodbye, if that’s all you feel like. But now I’m far more engaged with my unit, and more aware of what each person is doing, which is ironic considering that in the office we would be sitting right next to each other. I think we’re a stronger team now, so that’s changed how I work, and how I feel about work.
4. What have you missed about working in the office?
I’ve missed the social aspect of work because it’s how I stay in the loop with other units, particularly the ICT staff, as I work on a different floor to them at Waymouth Street. But other than that, there’s not that much I miss largely because the online work from home set up and technology has been so effective. Well done ICT!
5. What have been the upsides of working from home?
I can’t really claim that the commute into work was a problem because I live close to work. It’s the increased productivity that’s been the main upside of working from home. At times I have found the open floor plan environment doesn’t lend itself to uninterrupted stretches of time to concentrate. Meeting rooms and quiet rooms are almost always booked out. Overall I’ve found working from home overwhelmingly productive, and a positive experience.
6. What will you take away from this whole experience – professionally and personally?
This experience has been extraordinary. Professionally - it’s shown me the advantages of working from home, and I hope that DEW can embrace this in the future. Personally - I think the connection with my team has just been extraordinary and the support that we’ve given each other has positively impacted me, and I think everyone in our team. We know each other more now, and we’re more likely to ask each other, ‘What can I do to help?’ And it hasn’t just been work support, it’s become a friendship support that wasn’t there before.
I wouldn’t want to work from home exclusively, I would want to have some actual face-to-face contact, but I know now how empowering work from home can be.