Recently, while hard at work, I thought about how much of what we’re living through has been predicted by sci-fi authors.
I took this thinking process one step further: in a grim, gritty cyberpunk trope-filled world, how can grads make the most of working from home? It’s a given that many people will, at least partially, continue to work from home in the future, REA itself has embraced a hybrid working model moving forward, so I believe it’s a pertinent question (more musings on the combination of these two thoughts below).
My advice: embrace it.
And a special thanks to REA for making our work from home experience great.
Musing 1: Humanity floats through the cybersphere... data points flit through our fingers, pulsing at nerve endings and providing information through every sense. The human body contains 144,000 kms of nerve endings, every millimetre of which can be repurposed to connect human to machine.
Fortunately(?), society is a good 30 years away from that. At the moment, I believe the most effective a human worker can be is with an ergonomic chair, a second monitor, and an Espresso Machine. I know these creature comforts have made this period a very comfortable experience for me.
A bonus – the REA Group let us borrow and take home their veeerrrryyy expensive office chairs, which made a world of difference through the COVID period. Now, and to align with our new hybrid working model at REA, they’re giving us $300 each for the next two financial years specifically to properly equip our home office spaces.
As a tech company we’re also very used to being online, so connecting with mentors and teammates hasn’t been a problem. Sharing work, insights, and data couldn’t be easier, even without cybernetic implants.
Musing 2: Megacorporations rule a smog-filled world... They watch our every keystroke, profiling our behaviour, sucking every joule of productivity they can from their users.
Not far off the mark, and we’re welcoming it – for better or worse. Everyone depends on the tech giants to a degree which we, even 10 years ago, would’ve thought mad.
Slack, a popular messaging tool, experienced service disruptions twice in 2020. Both times, cut off from all our colleagues, all my flatmates and I convened in the kitchen and panicked.
But besides those rare outages, these tools have made the digitisation of work a largely pleasant experience.
My hot tip: make use of them! This is how you’ll stay in touch with your workers and keep making valuable connections, even from your home office (or as many of us experience the desk in the corner of your bedroom).
And on those occasions you can get into the office, arrange social events and coffee catch-ups.
At REA, a random-matching coffee catch-up system lets you get in touch with all kinds of people over the business – I even had one with Owen Wilson, our CEO!
Musing 3: Ads are everywhere. They’re beamed into your eyes, even into your brain, in neon brilliance and full surround-sound.
If you’re seeing ads while working from home, you’re doing it wrong. Look into ad-blockers, seriously.
Musing 4: Outrageous outfits abound. Mirror visors, leather coats, sunglasses indoors on cloudy days. Strange metal antennae protrude directly from skulls.
Another trope that wasn’t far from the mark. Although, for accuracy, swap visors for beanies and leather coats for dressing gowns (often with cat hair on them). Noise-cancelling headphones have exploded in popularity, too, as have cat-ear headbands, but at least neither of those are directly grafted onto people yet.
My advice - take advantage of the freedom of work from home. Don’t wear pants. Only put clothes on for calls. Stay comfy. Express yourself!
Musing 5: No matter where you go – your home, the narrow streets, the ravaged supermarkets – pulsating techno muzak assaults you from every angle.
I don’t know anyone who isn’t blasting Spotify 24/7 at these days, though I overhear more Rihanna than techno from my flatmates’ rooms. We’re not quite there yet, methinks.
You need to find what works for you. At home, there are so many possible distractions. Keep what makes work fun, and remove all the others.
Musing 6: Cults have formed around machines so advanced they may as well be gods.
See the aforementioned Espresso Machine. Praise be to almighty Espresso Machine and Its heavenly espresso children.
Part of a successful working from home lifestyle involves the creation of a routine, including things like starting work at the same time daily, having a regular lunch time, and finishing work at the same time.
Chief among these events is my 10 am coffee, a ritual I also followed in the office at our charity café or the many coffee machines throughout our buildings (I miss the daily latte-art competitions we used to have!).
Musing 7: The world is a wasteland. Only small areas are inhabitable, and these are fought over by the survivors...
Sometimes I think I have no idea what the outside world is like! For most of last year, Melbourne was locked down, and my glimpses of outside were through daily runs.
This highlights another thing key to working from home, and I would also say working full-time, exercise is great for your mind and body.
I can’t wait to regularly cycle back into the office down the Merri Creek Trail. Our office has bike storage, showers, and an awesome free towel service that makes energetic commutes a breeze.
Musting 8: Black markets trade in goods and services you can’t find anywhere else on-planet, but you’ll have to pay an arm and a leg for them.
Let us never forget the toilet paper hoarders of 2020. Way to go, sheep.
I did join the flock though when it comes to going a little nutty with online purchases, buying a bread machine, vertical mouse, and too many board-games among other things. I don’t regret any of it though. Even when at home, you gotta treat yourself!
Many teams also received care packages of things like cupcakes or drinks for online social events, which just makes you feel loved.
So the future lies somewhere between fiction and reality. There’s a lot to take advantage of, and nothing to be afraid of. I heartily recommend everyone looks to the opportunities this new world is bringing us.
And apply for the REA Graduate Program, too!