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  • Lisa Canning

Regional Living and Working from Home - Can We Make the Shift?

The change is on in earnest now. The big tech companies who went about setting up an office space that was part theme park created an environment where staff wanted to be longer, in the belief that their togetherness was expanding their creativeness. This year has shown these companies can still get great results with a remote workforce and they have reduced their overheads significantly.

Although reluctant to move away from a city-driven office model, companies have now been thrust into the ‘work from home normal’. The realisation that a company can operate with far less face-to-face contact has been a positive quirk to emerge from our current worldwide situation.

If you’ve indulged in the fantasy of the inner-city corporate life and an idyllic rural home as part of this shift in thinking about remote working, now is the time.

For some, outer suburbia is the answer, while for others it could be an outback farm or the top of a mountain.


There are several variables that need to be factored in to make this a reality and it just won’t work for some. Personally, I love the idea, but I am not sure I can be bothered mowing the lawn.


ASSESSING THE REGIONAL LIFESTYLE

This isn’t a new concept but this year everyone who has had the idea in the back of their mind has now experienced it for a long enough period of time to establish whether it’s for them or not. There seems to be a thought process that companies will, through time, reduce wages as a result of the cost of living reductions. Obviously, the bang for your dollar in property away from the metro hub is fantastic, but the cumulative savings from being away from our cities is significant.


Some of the questions people considering a regional move may have been asking themselves are:

  • Am I productive enough working in my own environment?

  • Can I achieve the distance lifestyle balance that some crave?

  • Is it financially viable?

  • Where is the closest I can live to my work location that is affordable?

  • How much time do I want to spend on my commute?

  • How many times do I need to physically be at my office?

  • How much family time am I willing to sacrifice?

“Am I productive working on my own?” For me, the answer is yes. I am generally self-motivated and I am finding my focused time at home very beneficial in achieving my goals. The extra time I get in my working day not having to commute and not spending quite so much time getting ready (no make-up required at home) has also helped with what I set out to achieve in a day. You can’t be a procrastinator. “Up and at it” is the only way.


IS THERE A HALF-WAY OPTION?

If you need the hum of human-related activity around you, then there is always the option of co-working spaces. Co-working spaces have been around forever in the city and are now finding their way into regional towns. These can be shared leased offices, hourly hire boardrooms or even a local hall where likeminded people could get the random interaction that comes from an office.

The flexibility of shared office space allows you to drop in and out depending on your needs.

If you only need a few hours here and there, it could be just as easy to use a coffee shop or library - all we need is Wi-Fi.


FINDING THE RIGHT BALANCE:

Physical face time with your team is going to happen, and the frequency of this interaction will be a determining factor in how you make this work. The amount of time required in an office environment will vary dependant on your needs and the company’s needs. It may be weekly, fortnightly or monthly. If a weekly commute suits your needs, you may want to be in outer suburbia with a bit of land and a three-hour round trip. If you’re getting in once a month, 500km’s and a cheeky stopover in the hustle and bustle of the city could be ideal. A question always asked by me during a job interview is, “where do you live?” This was usually asked in relation to a daily commute, now it could be what determines if remotely working from home is achievable.


TECHNOLOGY VERSUS THE HUMAN CONNECTION:

Technology is a huge factor in making this work. I think we would all agree that technology is more than capable of meeting our needs in the modern world. Phone, video, email, social media can all easily be used to get the message across and the work done. What it won’t replace is the human reaction to cues in body language and the connections that are made from working together. In working away from a traditional hub, do you build the trust that would normally be accumulating from daily interaction?

I love the high fives and glass of bubbles that come at the end of a hard month while dissecting what went right and wrong.

Therefore, I believe we will always need some together in the physical form.


WHAT IT COMES DOWN TO IS THIS:

  • Can I work effectively and be a great team member or manager whilst I’m living away from what would traditionally be called my workspace?

  • Can I conveniently get to that central hub when necessary?

  • Is there an imbalance of negatives for myself and the company that make the experience unworkable?

From what we’ve seen this year, I’d say it is very doable. For me, I have worked out that I’m a city girl who likes the hum of office activity and banter that comes from working through day-to-day challenges. So, I’ll stick to the traffic and client visits all over town and catch-ups with candidates at a sneaky little bar in the city over a wine. When the need comes for some quiet time, I’ll get away for a long weekend to one of those towns where others have gone to live and work and contemplate a tree/sea change before saying, “nah - back to the city for me.”


Please contact us if we can assist you with your job search or for further market feedback on this topic or other recruitment-related topics.

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