A negotiation between employees and employers is essential to recalibrating the work-life balance for Victorian workers, according to La Trobe University Centre for Ergonomics and Human Factors head, Associate Professor Jodi Oakman.
A/Prof Oakman is in the midst of new research which has surveyed workers' reaction to work from home arrangements.
A first survey, conducted last September, found people with caring responsibilities were most adversely impacted by working from home.
"Supportive management was really important for employees, where people who had supportive managers reported they were less impacted by working from home," A/Prof Oakman said.
A follow-up survey in the coming months will gauge the impact of the pivoted work arrangements on respondents' physical and mental health and how their work structure has changed in 2021.
The uncertainty that exists for Victorian workplaces when it comes to the number of employees permitted on site and how often is always changing, but A/Prof Oakman said regularly reviewing the work-home interface is crucial to striking a harmonious balance.
"It's important to create barriers between work and home," A/Prof Oakman said.
"While some people enjoy a short commute to work, not having to do that when you are at home creates more time spent with families and on activities.
"For many of us, there are uncertainties about how and when we might be allowed to go back into our formal workplaces and when we do, how are we going to adjust?
"Therefore, regularly reviewing how we manage the work-home interface is important to ensure we can do those activities we enjoy."
While restrictions announced by Premier Daniel Andrews left employers with no choice but to implement work from home procedures, there are now a lot of decisions to make for both employers and employees, A/Prof Oakman said.
"Our current research related to COVID-19 and working at home shows that people want some balance," A/Prof Oakman said.
Victoria's two distinct lockdown periods provided a chance for both parties to adapt, A/Prof Oakman said.
"Employers were accepting that people were doing their best in very difficult circumstances," she said.
"Being in the office has some benefit and most people would like to go back to being in the office some days of the week and at home on others.
"The challenge then becomes communicating this to an employer and the employer allowing that to happen."
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