Macra members share their experiences of working from home
Covid-19 has changed the way we approach our workday with many commutes being eliminated allowing for that time to be used differently. In the recent Macra na Feirme Rural Youth Survey those working in rural Ireland outside of farming were asked a series of questions concerning their work/life balance and the impact of Covid-19 on their lives.
53% of all young rural people surveyed responded that yes, they would like to work from home or from a remote working hub in the future, with 34% of respondents answering that no, they would not like to work from home or from a remote work hub in the future.
“We have already seen that young people have been disproportionately affected by this pandemic not just in terms of loss of jobs but socially too. Thankfully, we have also seen some benefits emerging such as more time with family and new skills learned," said Macra na Feirme National President Thomas Duffy.
Over 47% of those surveyed were happy with their current work life balance. Of that cohort, 30% shared that their workload has decreased since Covid-19 and 70% commented that their workload remained the same. 53% of those surveyed were unhappy with their current work life balance. Within that group, 57% stated their workload has increased since Covid-19, with 43% identifying that their workload has stayed the same.
59% of those surveyed identified spending more time with their families as a positive to Covid-19, with 48% of respondents believed that there had been an increase in spending in the local economy. Other positives identified included learning new skills, greater care towards the environment and more community spirit.
We asked some of our members to share with us their experiences of working from home during the pandemic.
Claire Gough - Civil Service, Meath
I have begun to love it; I was commuting from Athboy in Meath to Dublin City Centre every day with about four hours in a car so now I have a lot more free time to myself in the mornings and evenings.
I have enjoyed working from home, at the start I found it difficult to get used to, I found myself getting jealous of my family who were frontline workers and got to see people outside the home. However, I have begun to love it, I was commuting from Athboy in Meath to Dublin City Centre every day with about four hours in a car so now I have a lot more free time to myself in the mornings and evenings. I have a quite strong internet connection at home but my phone coverage can be shocking at times so I communicate a lot by email rather than phone which can take time to get replies and can delay projects moving on. I hope I can continue working from home for the foreseeable future with possibly one or two days per week.
Sarah Kelly – Teacher, Offaly
It wasn’t long until the frustration and a longing to be back to my work environment kicked in.
Thankfully, most of my communicating with my class and parents is done through the class dojo app so I can rely on my data coverage for that. The internet in place is not suited for remote learning as I often lag or get cut off from zoom meetings. While there are some upsides to remote learning, I think the downsides outweigh them and the teaching profession is one that is not suited to it. The social interaction between both the staff and pupils is definitely missed and there’s a constant worry to whether I’m doing enough to support the pupils learning and the family’s well-being also. Fortunately, this is only a temporary set up and I, like most teachers, am looking forward to getting back into the classroom again.
Helen Hayes – Marketing Manager, North Tipperary
I am currently in a rural area that is awaiting broadband, and will most likely be still waiting for quite some time.
I've worked remotely for the last seven years. The pandemic has changed the way I work in that it has become more remote than usual. My work usually takes me out of the country once a month, but as of last March I've been grounded. I've had to adapt and work within the limits of the restrictions. Internet is crucial for me to be able to work. Physical meetings/conferences have been replaced with phone calls, emails and zoom. I recently moved to a new house, and I am currently in a rural area that is awaiting broadband and will most likely be still waiting for quite some time. We have had to opt for mobile broadband which I'm grateful for, but we had to do quite a bit of research to get and even as is, is not the strongest. I'm hopeful that when we eventually get high-fibre broadband it will lessen the chance of the freezing of my friends on WhatsApp calls and being able to converse more on zoom without having to resort to the chat box or worrying about signal interference.
Gavin Treacy - Quantity Surveyor, Galway
The issue of poor rural internet had a big effect on the speed at which I was able to do my work compared to the high-speed broadband that I was so used to having in the company office in town.
I work as a Quantity Surveyor with a Construction Company. Pre-covid times my role and job would be 90% office based with a visit to site once or twice a week. However, since last March I have been working from home due to government restrictions. It has its ups and downs for many reasons. Some of which I will touch on here. At first it seemed a nice change as the weather was good and there was a sense of freedom to working from home. But that soon wore off when the issue of poor rural internet had a big effect on the speed at which I was able to do my work compared to the high-speed broadband that I was so used to having in the company office in town.
There is also the social aspect to is, you meet nobody, and everyone is virtual nowadays with zoom meetings. It just doesn't have the real feel to it.