8 May 2023

Probing the polls: Northsiders vs Southsiders and working from home

| Genevieve Jacobs
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woman sitting at office desk

A self-reporting study found that many public sector employees want greater flexibility over where they work. Our question this week is whether you think you work better at home or in the office. Photo: File.

It’s the question that divides Canberrans internally – are you a Northsider or a Southsider? While out-of-towners may be perplexed about why this matters, where you live can define who you are to ACT locals.

And as Canberra’s centre of population shifts northwards by about 23cm per year, we wondered how you see yourself. Which side of the lake feels right for you? And would you ever swap?

Sure, it’s a generalisation, but most Canberrans owe their loyalty to one side of the lake or the other and swapping sides isn’t all that common, as our results show.

We asked, Are you a Northsider or a Southsider? 1354 people voted.

Your choices to vote were: Southside rules: big skies, mountain views and room to move. This attracted 54 pert cent of the total, or 726 votes. Alternatively, you could vote Northside forever: friendly, funky and a lot closer to Sydney. This attracted 46 per cent of the total, or 628 votes.

This week, we’re wondering whether you work better at home or in the office.

READ ALSO Public servants think they work better at home, survey reveals

COVID-19 changed everything at work for many people, especially if you weren’t a frontline worker. So, would you be better off working at home instead of returning to the office at least some of the time?

Research undertaken at the height of COVID restrictions, when APS management and staff were made to work at home, showed that most were not only comfortable with the arrangements but felt they functioned at a better level.

A self-reporting survey of 6000 public sector employees reveals staff now want greater flexibility over where they work as a matter of course.

The study’s authors stated the key message from the survey was that working from home was an “overwhelmingly positive experience” for managers and employees in the APS, with more than 90 per cent of managers reporting their team’s productivity was at the same or higher levels.

Some readers agreed, including one who wrote: “Of course they work better from home in much of their work, as they can concentrate and avoid interruptions there. Open plan workplaces have been proven to significantly reduce productivity, as noise, distractions and interruptions frequently disrupt focus on work.

“There is more than 25 years research on the drop to productivity caused by open plan workplaces, yet it’s largely been ignored because of the cost of office space and fit-outs”.

But another wrote (cynically?) “Steps to working from home: 1. Run a video in a loop to keep the appearance of your account being active. 2. Only watch Netflix for three hours between 8:00AM and 4:00PM”

Our question this week is:

Do you work better at home?

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