Australian Government,  Blog post

Chairs, screens and Teams… oh my

When we moved to working from home last year, it was the first time for many government departments and many people. There was a worldwide scramble for desks, chairs and computer equipment. Do you remember 2020 – you couldn’t find a computer screen for love or money!

We all learnt how to turn on our video in Teams, and after the last two years, I am pretty sure no one ever wants to hear the phrase “You’re on mute” ever again. We found new tools to help collaboration and joined in on more webinars than ever before.

I asked people in my network to do a short survey to understand current perceptions of working from home, the issues and the opportunities. As a result of where I live and my clients, most people who responded to the survey work in the Australian Public Service (66.7%) or as a contractor/consultant into government (20%). I released the first results a few weeks ago if you want to go back and have a look.

I asked if people wanted to keep working from home what did they need to be successful. It turns out, two years on, after many months of working from home, there are the three things people need to make this work.

What do you need to work successfully at home?

Respondents to the survey said they needed three things if they were going to continue to work from home (and most of them want to).

3.Better equipment

20.4% said they need better equipment like desks, chairs and monitors. Working from home is not sustainable if you don’t have a comfortable place to it and the right equipment to do your job. You also can’t effectively work in a hybrid way (two days in the office, three days from home – or vice versa) if you are lugging your monitor, laptop, laptop stand, keyboard and mouse back and forth. Chances are high, one day you’ll forget something.

2.Better technology

30% of people said they need better technology like software and improved meeting platforms. While most government departments I know of are on Microsoft Teams, everyone seems to use it differently and with different levels of capability. To effectively communicate and engage with your colleagues, you need the right technology to make it work.

1.Support from my employer

The number one thing that we need to be able to work from home successfully into the future… support from our employer (46.3%). We can’t do this alone. We need our organisations to get on board with this new way of working!

With a vast majority of staff wanting to work more flexibly, this is going to be an issue government departments need to consider and decide on in the next few months. The question to ask is, if you could trust your staff to deliver over the last four months, twelve months, two years, then why can’t you trust them to be productive once the pandemic is over?

If you are thinking about continuing to work from home, what do you need to make it work? Sure, when you think it’s only a few weeks sitting at the dining table and pushing aside the laptop to eat sounds fine. If this is going to be a permanent arrangement, is it time to think about your space and how you can make it more comfortable?

If you are going to seek support from your employer to make this a permanent arrangement, how can you set yourself up for success, and what do you need their help on?

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