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The Revolution is coming
By Emma Heuston, Author of The Tracksuit Economy: How to work productively AND effectively from home
I was an office bound lawyer chained to my desk.
I sat in a dusty old office surrounded by huge files wrapped in pink ribbon. My first day gifts were a dictaphone, a pile of tapes, a pad of paper and a pen. I did not even have a computer on my desk. Most of the firms communications were sent by fax. On the off chance I wanted to use that new fangled internet for legal research, I had to wait until one of the secretaries was at lunch or had left for the day. Even though we had legal research sites then, they were not as commonly used as these days.
Less than 20 years later, the world is extraordinarily different. In the way that the industrial revolution created the modern office, the tech revolution has created the flexible office. A far more agile and user friendly environment that is better able to keep pace with the push and pull of our modern lives.
I have been working remotely as a commercial lawyer at a large law firm for years now. I work from my home office in far northern New South Wales and it has become my “normal”. I chronicle my journey from Sydney desk-bound lawyer to Byron remote lawyer in my ebook, "The Tracksuit Economy - how to work productively and effectively from home"
In celebration of all things flexible work, the below are my top 5 highlights of the ways in which technology has improved our lives:
When I lived in Sydney I commuted 45 minutes to work at the start and end of the day. That 90 minutes a day was 7 and a half hours a week and 15 days a year, based on a 48 week work year!
Now I work remotely I have added an additional 2 weeks to my year for self-care and family care time.
What would you do with an additional 2 weeks of your year if you also worked from home?
My favourite part of remote work is that I choose (subject to client deadlines) how I manage my day.
If I want to volunteer at my son’s school each week I can do that and arrange my work schedule around it. No one is looking over my shoulder to see when I am sitting in my chair and best of all I have the trust of head office that I will get my work done.
For parents and those juggling a side hustle or a long commute with a job, being able to work at home or flexibly at least some of the time is key to managing the push and pull of work and life.
For me personally, this translates in being able to take 10 or 15 minute blocks of time during my day to have a break from my desk, during which time I pre-prepare dinner or make my son’s school lunch for the next day.
For others who still work in a traditional office some of the week but choose to work more flexible hours it can be about “leaving loudly” and not slinking out. Choosing to take children to sports training and logging on in the evening is another way flexibility helps our work/ life integration.
I left Sydney with my family in late 2013. In Sydney, we were paying a high rent and were struggling to get into the housing market as we did not want to saddle ourselves with a huge mortgage.
After our move we bought a house (with the mortgage payments far less than our Sydney rent was 5 years ago) on the far north coast of New South Wales.
The house we live in now is far more affordable than a similar house in a metropolitan city and we love the lifestyle of being close to the beach in a laid back town.
Would we ever move back to Sydney? The answer is an emphatic no way!
Both my husband and I work in jobs where we have head offices in Sydney, meaning we are able to live in a relaxed beach town but retain the career satisfaction we had in the city.
Having said that, 99% of our jobs can be done remotely in a more productive way. On the odd occasions we need to travel to our respective head offices, it is an hour flight away. Less time than it can take to drive from the outer suburbs of Sydney to the CBD!
Guest Blog by Emma Heuston. Author, Lawyer & Flexible Work Guru. In 2014 the author of The Tracksuit Economy, Emma Heuston began exploring available work outside of the tradition corporate/ legal sphere.
By 2018 Emma had transitioned exclusively to remote work, been nominated as a finalist for the Lawyers Weekly Commercial Partner of the Year awards and written her first book, The Tracksuit Economy.
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