The pandemic has seemingly changed our work lives forever, with flexible locations and hours now the norm.

[Read original article in House of Wellness published 21 January 2022]

House of Wellness, work from home, remote work, Jane Jackson, career coach

Imagine being able to log into a computer and do your job from interstate or even overseas.

Or move with your family to a regional town but keep your current role.

Of course you can imagine it – so many of us have been doing just that.

Pre-pandemic, those were working conditions many could only dream of.

But as we emerge into this new world where flexible working conditions are increasingly common for office workers, these scenarios look set to stay.

How Covid has prompted career soul searching

The Careers Academy founder Jane Jackson says the pandemic has prompted professionals to reimagine their work lives with more of a focus on work-life balance.

“Covid 19 has made us all realise what really matters,” says Jane, author of Navigating Career Crossroads.

“It takes a major event as a wake-up call to be mindful of what is most important in our lives, and it has been a reminder of why we work.

“The old adage of whether we live to work, or work to live, is front of mind for many.”

The practical benefits of working from home

Many office workers have expressed their desire to maintain a blend of in-office and remote work this year.

Regional relocations out of capital cities are also proving appealing.

“Employees have expressed that they do not miss the commute to work, being stuck in traffic,” Jane says.

“(They have discovered) the freedom to focus on productive work on their own schedule, rather than simply during office hours, has created a workable balance – especially for parents and those who care for ageing parents.”

Why you might be considering jumping ship

If you’ve been wondering whether you should change jobs this year, you wouldn’t be the only one.

Many employees are expected to reassess their careers following the pandemic – a move dubbed the ‘Great Resignation’ in the US.

Thanks to this trend, more companies are expected to offer attractive working conditions this year to keep their workforce motivated and engaged.

Jane predicts a significant movement in the job market in the first few months of this year.

“There is a groundswell of people who are burnt out by the restrictions of the pandemic,” she says.

“They are exhausted and they just don’t want to take a dissatisfying environment any longer.

“The pandemic has made many people realise that life can be short and they don’t want to live with regrets.”

How one employer is adapting to the new work environment

Melbourne creative agency Icon has put in place several workplace changes since the pandemic began.

Icon group managing director Joanne Painter says the company has completely transformed the workplace, with many employees working remotely and the Melbourne office now acting more as a drop-in campus for collaboration and team connectivity.

“For our team, Covid has had a golden lining of flexibility, new ways of working and better work-life balance,” Joanne says.

After consulting its team of 70 employees, Icon has also introduced Holiday+, a flexi-work option that allows staff to take leave overseas then opt to work from that location for up to two months.

“The only caveat is they need to have good internet, be available to work Australian business hours, or as agreed with your manager, and work from one location, ideally,” Joanne says.

“Several employees have already booked in to take advantage of it, so it will be interesting to see how it goes.”

Workplace wellness is now a priority

The well-being of employees is also a strong consideration for many companies, given how taxing the past two years have been on employees.

Food company Carman’s has a wellbeing program, which includes free weekly yoga, boot camp and meditation classes, and also offers employees an extra day of leave on their birthday.

Joanne says Icon offers free mental health support via an employee assistance program.

“To attract and retain talented employers, companies need to be mindful to provide a good working environment, adequate compensation, treat employees with respect and provide them with the opportunity to develop their potential,” Jane says.

Written by Erin Miller.

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