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Oppida raises the bar in online education

3 reasons why remote work isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Oppida’s CEO and founder, Bianca Raby spent the last few weeks travelling Australia for business and pleasure. The change of environment has given rise to some thoughts about the remote work lifestyle…

Remote work

Anyone who follows me and the work of Oppida might be surprised to see the title of this blog. You may be thinking…

‘I thought you were digital education advocates?’

‘I thought you were all about remote work?’

Well, yes, we are. But, this does not mean we are advocating for the complete demise of face-to-face learning. Nor do we believe that a central workplace for a team to come together in person does not have its value.

Landing back in Australia a few weeks ago after two long years overseas, I was surprised at the level of excitement there still is for working at home in PJs. Like all new shiny ideas or experiences, I thought the shine would have worn away by now. It certainly had for me in 2020 after two years in the remote work game.

For people in big cities, life indeed got somewhat easier when their workplaces were forced to go remote. In some cases, much cheaper, too, as I just discovered that the average car commuter in Sydney is also paying millions in tolls to get anywhere.

Work from home

But now I feel we have a new problem on our hands. The lines between work, family, personal life, and health have all been severely blurred – I hope not to an irreparable state.

What do I mean? Well, as someone who has chosen to work remotely for nearly 5 years, I have learned a lot about myself and how to maintain a healthy balance in my life. However, even with this awareness and commitment, I don’t always get it right.

Here are the top 3 things I think we all need to be aware of as the lines blur between the digital and the physical more and more each day.

Setting boundaries

No one can do this but you. Seriously. Even if your boss says, ‘I don’t expect you to check Slack after normal office hours’, you must resist the urge to open it. As we all realised ten years ago, the flip side of having emails on our phones means we can check them 24/7. ‘Working from home’ can also give some employers the sense that you are always on call.

Healthy boundaries are critical for remote and digital lives. Otherwise, we are never ‘off’. This is dangerous and one of the main reasons we see so much burnout (I believe).

setting boundaries working from home online

Creating a routine

In the ‘old’ days, we would get up at a particular time to make sure we did all the things we needed to before starting work – gym, laundry, prepare lunch for the kids, shower, put on make-up, etc. Some say these things are a ‘waste of time’, but for me, after two years of not honouring those little things, I missed them. I missed them because they can act as downtime for our brains. We are not on technology for these. They are physical acts in the physical world that require our attention, not intellect. In some cases, they can even be meditative.

I hear many people say they have lost all sense of routine and structure. They take meetings all around the clock, roll out of bed 5 minutes before a call or workshop, and have lost the motivation to leave the house. They are working in their PJs and have forgotten how to apply mascara.

creating a routine work from home online

Connecting with humans

In one of my favourite workplaces, every day, at about 10:30, someone would pop their head up from their cubicle and say, ‘coffee time’. Then, a group would wander downstairs for fresh air, anecdotes from the night before, silly jokes, and some informal work chats. This was how we bonded and gained each other’s trust. We knew who was lactose intolerant, didn’t drink coffee, liked long blacks, and took three sugars with their cappuccino. Of course, none of this was relevant to our jobs, but it mattered. It made us all human to one another.

work online from home with a coffee break

Funnily enough, last year, the Oppida team made me a team height chart for the company’s birthday. This was because, at the time, I had only met in person two of our 20-person team. Now I’m working my way around Australia to meet many of our team who have worked together for years. It’s been great to see how tall they all are!

So, does this resonate with you? What have been the other unintended consequences of going remote/digital for almost everything in your life?

If you would like to hear more about the realities of a fully digital career (a.k.a. Learning Designer) check out this video: