Restrictions are easing and workers are shifting back to physical offices across the country.
For some, it’s a welcome return. But for others, it has been a disruption to what has been a more agreeable working situation.
Although the sudden plunge to the WFH lifestyle was a result of the first round of lockdowns in 2020, the pivot revealed many pre-pandemic accessibility concerns about physical offices.
But this transition period is an excellent opportunity to craft a fair workplace for everyone.
The costly commute
Let’s say you start work at 9am. What time would you have to wake up to clock in for the day while at home? How much earlier did that use to be?
For everyone, the commute into work costs time. Time that could be spent relaxing or with family and not on a packed train or in peak hour traffic.
And for those who don’t live near the office, it also costs money.
For workers who rely on public transport in the bigger cities like Melbourne and Sydney, you may have to spend more than $10 just to travel in and out from work each day.
Drivers must pay close attention to their costs too, especially with fuel prices on the rise.
Some of us have taken the opportunity of WFH to move away from city centres, no longer needing to live so close to their workplaces.
In fact, housing and rent prices have meant that many of us were already living farther away from urban centres. But working from home has provided a reprieve from those long commutes in and out of town.
When home is more accessible
For workers living with disabilities, physical workplaces have previously posed a barrier in their working lives.
Home can mean a place to work that’s wheelchair friendly or a more comfortable environment in which to manage a chronic illness.
And with the Federal Government abandoning people with disabilities to fend for themselves, COVID still poses a very real threat.
Daily case numbers remain in the four digits for the larger East and West coast states, making many of us uneasy about a return to offices.
While many workers are looking forward to seeing workmates in-person again, we’re also cautious about potentially passing on COVID.
Be the workplace you want to see in the world
If you’re already in a unionised workplace – great. Your union delegates can help in conducting a conversation with your employer to figure out the best way forward for everyone.
But if you’re not yet a union member, joining your union is the perfect starting point.
We’re heading into a new era of work so if you’re feeling unsure about how to navigate a post-pandemic work environment, you’re not the only one.
You, your workmates, and your employer can use this opportunity to construct the type of workplace that you’ll all enjoy.
Being part of a union gives you collective bargaining power. That means working with union representatives who can help you negotiate better terms and conditions, such as a working situation accessible for everyone.