NBN balancing work and life

NBN balancing work and life

There’s no doubt about it – most Aussies dream of working from home. The benefits are obvious – no long commutes, the freedom to spend extra time with family and the flexibility of being able to sit in your home office in your pyjamas and slippers (if you choose) is an appealing concept for almost everyone. The great news is that super-fast and reliable broadband – like that provided by the NBN – is making it so much easier for people to work from home.

In fact, the shift towards home employment is already well on its way, and those leading the revolution are mothers returning to work after having children. According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, almost one fifth of mothers were working from home in 2011 and that number is sure to have risen. Many mums decide to work from home for the same types of reasons – they are usually working women who have decided during pregnancy or shortly afterwards that they want to go back to work. Of course, it can be a heartbreaking decision to put a young child into day care, so instead, these enterprising women decide to seek the flexibility of working from home, which allows them to simultaneously raise their children.

Some of these mothers find home work quickly, some not so quickly, but in almost every case, the one requirement for working from home is fast, reliable internet. This allows people working from home to access video conferencing, cloud-based or source sharing systems and other software with no hassle and no downtime.

The trend towards working from home isn’t restricted to mothers though and – according to the Australian Work and Life Index survey – around 16% of employed individuals are already working from home on a full time basis. Again, this is set to rise dramatically with the advancement of communication technology and demographer Bernard Salt, who released his report ‘Towards a Super Connected Australia’, believes the NBN will be the precipitant towards a cultural upheaval over the next few decades – particularly when it comes to employment.

In fact, Salt has already named a new generation of Aussies who will change the face of working Australia. GenNBN, he posits, will throw off the shackles of the traditional nine to five workday and instead, “increasingly re-organise when and where work is delivered”. He believes work will become more about deliverables and less about hours, so that work can be completed in bursts over the working week, rather than during the traditional eight hours. As the populations of Australia’s capital cities become unsustainable, the only option will be for employers to allow their employees to work wholly or partially from home. By 2030, Salt suggests that the majority of workers will be using HD-video conferencing, collaborative cloud computing and other services to work from home, cafés, lifestyle retreats and parks.

Could you work from home?

Just because almost everybody desires to work from home, it doesn’t mean that everybody can. Working from home requires a certain level of discipline that many people lack. It also requires a level of isolation, meaning social butterflies might find themselves climbing the walls with loneliness.

One tip that most people who work under these conditions agree on is that a day working from home should be treated in the same way as a day of working outside the home. What that means is that you should schedule your work hours in, get up on time and change into day clothes. Sure, you can still lounge around in your pyjamas if that works for you, but the simple act of getting dressed in the morning tells your brain that you mean business and puts you into the right gear for work.

Don’t take personal calls, browse the internet or let your family distract you (if possible), as even a small distraction can set you back for a long time. Some people with young children (including the writer of this article) even choose to work during the night to reduce distraction.

Even though you may need to set some ground rules, the upsides are many and the flexibility is freeing. The NBN is just the icing on the cake!

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