Michelle was invited by The Advertiser to contribute her suggestions on how to negotiate a continued ‘work from home’ arrangement – read the article by Melanie Burgess here.
Aussies given a taste of working from home are so keen to keep their newfound flexibility that one in three would take a pay cut for the privilege.
Exclusive figures from payroll and HR software company Ascender reveal 37 per cent of Australian workers would happily sacrifice a portion of their income to avoid going back to their workplace after the coronavirus pandemic – and another 30 per cent would consider it.
The idea is most popular among respondents aged 25 to 34 (45 per cent) and least popular among those aged 65 and older (25 per cent).
Ascender general manager Richard Breden says the research shows how much value employees place on flexibility and that some workers may ask to work from home as an alternative to a pay rise this year.
“I think many Australians are very aware of the challenges businesses face and the prospects of a pay rise in the near future are remote,” he says.
“If there is no pay rise, as an employee (I may say to my boss) ‘I have proven that working from home does not impact my productivity and I am happier and healthier … so how can I continue what I have been doing into the future, post-pandemic?’.”
Staff at digital health initiative ANDHealth have already established they will be working remotely from now on.
Founder and managing director Bronwyn Le Grice says stakeholders no longer expect the physical presence they once did.
“For the first time ever, I have been home every night with my children, with my travel schedule paused indefinitely,” she says.
“As a CEO who has always worked remotely at least half the time, it has also brought me much closer to the team – putting everyone on an equal, remote-working footing.”
ANDHealth co-founder and vice president of program design and delivery Grace Lethlean says the team is able to easily collaborate and socialise online.
“There has been a tangible blending of the work persona and home persona which has been very positive,” she says.
The Ascender research reveals many benefits of working remotely.
Almost half (47 per cent) of survey respondents have spent less money, 28 per cent are doing more exercise and 19 per cent have improved their diet.
Overall, people are more likely to say their productivity increased (22 per cent) than decreased (9 per cent), and their mental health improved (19 per cent) than deteriorated (12 per cent).
Not all workers have benefited from being at home, though.
The Ascender data also shows remote workers are more likely to be working longer hours (15 per cent) than shorter hours (12 per cent), and that 18 per cent feel more lonely.
New research from the Australian Chiropractor Association also reveals a spike in posture-related pains since the pandemic, with more than a quarter reporting pains they had not experienced before.
Australian Chiropractors Association president and practising chiropractor Anthony Coxon says it is mainly the result of poor ergonomics and lack of movement while working from home, as well as stress caused by the pandemic.
To reduce the risk of injury, he recommends workers ensure their screen is at eye level.
“For those working from a laptop, that means separating the keyboard,” he says.
“A few shoe boxes come in handy at times like this.
“We have heard of all sorts of interesting positions people do their work from these days – such as just sitting on the end of their bed – but having the right set up is vital.”
If possible, Coxon also recommends using a desk that can alternate between sitting and standing height.
“Movement is the key,” he says.
“The potential huge advantage of working from home is people can use time they might otherwise use for travelling to exercise.
“Moving regularly throughout the day can go a long way to preventing problems.”
HOW TO NEGOTIATE CONTINUED WORK FROM HOME
According to workplace expert and Bad Boss author Michelle Gibbings:
* Start the conversation with your boss now. Seek to understand their perspective and any concerns they may have so you can alleviate those concerns.
* Be ready to actively demonstrate how productive and effective working from home has been for you, and explain the benefits.
* Be prepared to be flexible. You may need to go into the office on certain days and that may change from week to week.
* Have the conversation when your boss is likely to be more receptive and you are in the best headspace. When you are calm, prepared and thoughtful, you are far better able to sell the business benefits of the idea.
* Know what matters to you and your boss and consider what you may be willing to change in terms of how you currently work to keep this benefit.
* I would not suggest offering to take a pay cut. An employee should not be paid less just because they want to work from home.