Now that Australia has begun to ease social distancing restrictions, millions of Australians are preparing to return to work after a long period of working from home. We would all agree that this has been a challenging time for us all, but the experience has left us with lifelong lessons as well. Here’s what we learned:

Lesson 1: How to manage our own time.

It’s amazing how so many of us have progressed in life without ever knowing how to manage our own hours. Perhaps it’s because we’ve usually allowed others to dictate our days: before remote work, we’ve had to wake up at certain hours to have enough time to get ready and beat the morning commute. At the office, we’re bound to constraints set by the tasks that we have to complete. In some workplaces, even coffee breaks are scheduled down to the last minute. If we wanted to get ahead of rush hour traffic and be back home at a reasonable hour, we had to finish work at an appropriate time.

Working from home has allowed us all to become more familiar with the concept of time and how we make use of it. Without the trappings of an official schedule to keep to or supervisors to keep an eye on us, we’ve all had to make adjustments to how we utilise the hours that we have in the day.Becoming an effective telecommuter means learning how to put together our own routine and sticking to it. After having been dropped off the deep end of remote work, we can now comfortably say that we’ve become experts at determining exactly how many minutes we need in order to fulfil our daily responsibilities. Meeting deadlines will never be a struggle again!

Lesson 2: How tech can vastly improve our efficiency.

One of the basic requirements for any office-based job is computer literacy. Before remote working, we already knew how to use computers and we had a rudimentary understanding of how to operate the company’s preferred tools.

However, working from home has allowed us to become more familiar—and thus more adept at using—the tech that we use daily. Did you know that Microsoft Outlook can be used for so much more than sending and receiving e-mail, or that you can use the nifty Google Assistant to maintain your G Suite calendar? We’ve only scratched the surface of what these amazing apps can do at the office. Now that we’re all working from home, we’re discovering new features that we simply never thought to explore before. We’re also learning how to integrate programs such as Microsoft Teams into our workflow to better facilitate communication and collaboration.

Lesson 3: How vital comfort is to productivity.

Most furniture designed for the home is not suitable for work. Many of us didn’t know that until we’ve had to endure a full day of it in a dining chair while hunched over a kitchen table. One of the most common complaints you’ll hear from those new to working from home is back pain, along with other symptoms associated with improper posture and sitting for long hours. We definitely took our ergonomic chairs and standing desks for granted!

As much as remote work has allowed us to see that we can work anywhere, it’s also made clear that we can only do so to a point. Doing all of your work in bed is an indulgent mental image until you’ve tried it and experienced the aches the next day. It’s taught us that comfort really does play a significant part in employee productivity. To improve your telecommuting experience, consider making small ergonomic adjustments to your work environment. You’d be surprised at what a difference a posture cushion or a footrest can make in your life!

Lesson 4: How important it is to have a healthy work-life balance.

Work-life balance is yet another thing we’ve tended to take for granted until we suddenly didn’t have it anymore. Shifting to remote work removed the crucial but oft-overlooked luxury of leaving our work at work, to our detriment. When the “office” is only as far as the steps it takes to get from your bed to your computer, boundaries are blurred. Many telecommuters bemoan an inability to ‘unplug’ from work and suffer from elevated levels of stress and anxiety.

Fortunately, there are several ways to regain that balance. Take breaks, make plans! Turn off all work-related notifications after clocking out. Prevent work from spilling into all other areas of your life by keeping everything you use for it in a designated space. Creating a ‘getting off work’ routine can also help. Try getting in a quick workout, going for a brisk walk around the block, or pouring yourself a celebratory drink. These measures will help train your brain to “switch off” after you’ve wrapped up for the day.


For some people, the sudden shift to working from home was a blessing; to others, it was a curse. Whichever side of the argument you stand on, it’s undeniable that it’s been a valuable learning experience for all of us. What did you learn from becoming a remote worker?