CHOICE membership

How do you handle working from home?

In the News: Wednesday 26 May '21
“Melbourne cluster grows after more Covid19 cases confirmed”.

The dreaded news that there might be another lockdown coming our way.
Last lockdown the Government advice was to “work from home if at all possible”. Will working from home become the new normal for both male and female workers? Is it easier to work from home for men than it is for women?
Does the distraction and responsibility of family chores make working from home harder, or do you find it has other benefits?
Do you miss the workplace interactions, your own working space, the freedom from any ‘family chores’ pressure?

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There were reports a few weeks ago that about half of Victorian public service workers have been refusing to return to work post-lockdowns, even when it is safe to do so.

It appears that the ‘distraction and responsibility of family chores’ for these workers isn’t an issue or exist within their households. Maybe the 50% ‘eager’ to return to work did so to reduce distractions in the home when trying to do work.

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I’ve been splitting my time between the lab and home, depending on the type of products I’m testing. I can do something like personal alarms at home, but I can’t take six large TVs home with me. :sweat_smile:

My partner and I share the responsibility for household chores 50/50 or thereabouts. Whilst working from home, I may see something that needs attending to, but I’ll just make a note to do it at the end of the day or at the weekend.

The biggest distraction when working from home is a neighbour’s dog which is neglected and tends to bark and howl for much of the day. :frowning_face:

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It looks like you’re well organised @ScottOKeefe
May I offer a suggestion for the barking dog? Have him/her with you, maybe in your backyard, the dog longs for company and will stop barking and you will have a little peace and quiet :laughing:

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If it were only that simple. The dog is well imprisoned within high gates and fencing.I can hear the poor thing, but not see or touch him. :cry:

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Perhaps invite the neighbours around without the dog, and see how long they last listening to it’s barking. Less neighbourly options exist including playing back loudly a looped recording of their dog when they are home on the weekends and evenings. Note local curfew times or noise abatement requirements first.

I’ve resorted previously to noise cancelling headphones, possibly a legitimate tax deduction given the changed working conditions. The over ear ones seem to suit me best. Is it time Choice updated that review?

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Consider asking the neighbours for access to the dog and when you are home and they aren’t just bring it on over???

They are not that sort of neighbour unfortunately :anguished: I’ve considered Mark’s ideas too. Problem is that we’ve had to call the police a few times, and pursue them at court for other matters not related to their dog. They are none too popular with other residents…

But I do have a pair of noise-cancelling headphones from CHOICE’s recommended list :smiley:

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Then a complaint to Council for the noise is another possible step. In Brisbane 20 minutes of barking is enough to have a complaint upheld. It may be worth asking your Council what their guidelines are in this issue, or grow accustomed to the NC Headphones :smile:

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Our council ( a forced amalgamation thanks to the NSW state government ) is rather unhelpful, and simply refers residents to the NSW mediation centres. We have tried to get the neighbour to attend mediation ( for another matter ), and they refused, hence the court action. :weary:

Our council prior to amalgamation had inspectors that would come out to investigate noise complaints.

Even though I was mistaken for a barrister at court ( :laughing: apparently I was dressed like one ), I’m not keen to go back.

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State EPA for the noise then? or RSCPA if the dog is distressed.

p10, a noise abatement order?

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Yes, a noise abatement order would be the next step. I’ve learnt that the neighbour will use every trick to drag out any process, eg ignoring correspondence from the community justice centre, turning up to court to be classified as ‘attended’, but then leaving before being called to the courtroom, responding to everything at the last possible moment to avoid prosecution…

I don’t want to waste the court’s time, and my own, again, but it looks like that is the only solution. Other neighbours are also annoyed by the dog, and one is a rather ‘agro’ type, so I was hoping we might share the burden going forward :sweat_smile:

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The problem of barking dogs and 100 others that apply to the home and not the office are all signs that the home environment is in many cases not suitable for work as it stands. As mentioned in the mirror thread about women working from home I have long experience here.

Men and women have different problems because the way that work and domesticity interact depends on your domestic role and clearly for many families the roles are not the same no matter what the members may desire or imagine. There are some they have in common.

What men and women have in common is that there have to be boundaries established that protect both occupations from undue interference by the other. These might be in physical arrangements, time-frames, change of behaviour and house rules for doing things. It isn’t a matter of one being more important but getting both done without unnecessary mess. Getting this done requires recognition that it is a problem to be solved jointly and taking the time and trouble to work on it.

There may be costs getting it right. People see costs like hardware, software, office furniture, computers, adequate networking etc. They don’t see that there are warmware costs.

One partner may be left telling a sobbing 2YO that the child cannot go and give the other parent a cuddle because he or she is working - the child of course having no understanding of this. It may seem crazy but it might be sensible to communicate as you do in traditional work environments by leaving notes, texts or email in some situations because poking your head around the office door to chat may have a big cost. A visiting client may accept that professionals do have home offices but they probably don’t want to be part of the discussion of who is going to hang out the washing.

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When ‘work from home’ was first mooted, I wondered just how much work would actually get done. My civil engineering required me on the site, but I also brought work home every night to do amidst cooking tea etc. I did about half speed, but the main office was 4 hours drive and the district demountable was an hour away, I was salaried, not paid by the hour.

Come the pandemic and some relatives ‘worked from home’ including a FIFO mine safety guy who did his fortnight on/12 hour days from his rural property with young family and in-laws (lots of distractions). On his fortnight off he ran another business. While ‘working for the mine’ at home I often saw him around town doing his ‘other’ job and wondered just how productive he was for his employer. He was not happy when he had to return to work.

I have heard from other women how being home based means they can put the washing on, fire up the slow cooker, get up for a break and push the vacuum for 5 mins (productive exercise) and avoid travel, feeling really good about it.

I do wonder what work can be done for an employer, entirely at home? I hear of people who are working remotely from rural locations having moved a long way from their employer; but I hear of them in News items, not personally, and wonder if it isn’t a myth. My satellite NBN struggles to load pages and had an upload of 40kbs yesterday. PS I now work from home - I run our farm.

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Entirely? I am not sure. I suspect very few as between verifying milestones and other supervision, team-building, training etc there is going to be something that needs to be face to face.

For the self-employed it is quite feasible depending on the work. I was doing freelance software development which required personal planning and specification meetings and for me to install software and train staff on site. With good internet connections all that can be done remotely. Some may argue not as well but it can be done. I think some serious study would be required to discover how much personal contact influences outcomes in these areas if at all. Presumably such studies have been done or are underway - I haven’t looked. I was a one man band but there are many cases where small teams do the same thing and some would be able to never leave home because all they did was coding.

Such jobs are not for everybody. All those people put out of work by robots will not re-train as software engineers.

Latest News Melbourne:
Seven day state-wide lockdown
from 11:59 pm Thursday 27 May ‘21

It’s happened very fast, the cluster is spreading and the Coronavirus variant is the one identified in India in October.

The lockdown requires remote learning for children, and that means that all of the family will be at home: working, learning, playing, as we have seen it happen more than once during 2020.

How difficult is it for mums and dads to concentrate on the income producing work? And for younger children to distinguish between learning and playing time in the home?

What strategies should be implemented as we adapt to this way of life which is fast becoming the new norm?

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For anyone in a family situation, from very difficult to near impossible. I can relate in the past to studying from home with a young family and sometimes also needing to fit it in around shift work. (8 years in total for TAFE and Post Grad remote learning)

Having a space to sit and work that is physically and socially separated is important. A study/home work space adjoining or close to any of the living areas, entries, cooking aromas etc is far from ideal. I ultimately converted a rear room, added an air con and used an outside door for access.

This is all predicated on your partner (M or F) being a full time non working supervisor if you have young children. It is also difficult for children to understand. We have extended family with both parents working who cannot work for home, and in lockdowns were required at work. They became heavily reliant on their now retired parents for filling the gaps. Possible assuming they live nearby, are free and inclined to help. The same need for friends or family to assist might relate to those with an essential worker in the family and the other working from home. Also needing to manage younger school or preschool aged children.

When we were reduced to a one parent family, and the working one holding the fort, we often relied on close friends living nearby. Something not always possible with Covid lockdowns and not an exception because you are working from home.

There are strategies for separation of time and space. They might only be possible if the other partner is committed to primary care where the children are younger, or the family is committed to full time paid day care or outside school care. Covid lockdowns excepted.

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Another aspect is that it is easier in a house than in a flat, and easier when there are multiple rooms including one that can be isolated as a home office. More families with children are living in flats or units with limited space that are not amenable to isolating much of anything.

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Another possibility ? :rofl:

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