As someone who has recently joined a new team at Telstra, taking the leap from working in the office to being part of a virtual team has required some adaptation.

There are, of course, certain challenges that come with working remotely, but I have found that there are numerous benefits as well. Most importantly, Telstra has such a fantastic culture, with a strong emphasis on teamwork, supporting each other and continuous learning. This has resulted in a feeling of connection and the ability to stay productive regardless of where I’m located.

What my days look like

When we started working remotely, I was pretty much freestyling it and getting up just before office hours. But soon I realised that this routine was making me miserable, so I decided to create a timetable.

Though the basic structure stays the same – wake early, do a home workout, work, play with my dog, spend time with my family and watch TV – I do different things every day to avoid getting bored.

For example, my workouts vary between an online class, yoga or a walk, and my exact working and lunch hours depend on what meetings I have throughout the day. I also make sure that I stretch my legs at some point or sit outside for ten minutes in the sun.

The benefits of working remotely

The biggest benefit for me has been the change in my work-life balance. I don’t spend any time commuting to work, which means I have more time to spend with my family. Before, the only time my entire family would get together and talk our day was during dinner. Now, we use that time to learn new recipes and cook them together and have a lot more family movie nights.

In terms of the workload, I feel like my stress levels have lessened. I used to always be worried about finishing everything on time because I had to leave to get home or to other commitments. Now, I can just work a little later if I want to get something done, and then take the night off.

I’m also enjoying the lack of commuting. Travelling takes a lot out of you, especially if you live far from the office, like me where it takes an hour door to door. It doesn’t sound too bad but it’s quite exhausting during peak hour!

And the challenges

The biggest struggle has been not being able to see my colleagues and friends from work. I didn’t think it would be a big deal since we have great collaboration tools, but I didn’t consider how much I had gotten used to having people around me.

I miss the snack runs with my friends in the Telstra Graduate Program, the coffee catch-ups with my leader, and even just walking up to someone and asking for help. But again, as with everything else, I’ve adjusted, and it’s gotten easier.

Another challenge is keeping my home life and work life separate. Because my computer is nearby all the time when I am at home, it can be easy to ‘just check this one email and then close my laptop’ – but once you open that laptop, it can take a long time to close. So, you really need to make sure that you resist the temptation. My suggestion would be that once you decide that you’ve finished work for the day, do an activity that distracts you, such as cooking or watching a movie.

A great team keeps you connected and engaged

I’ve been surrounded by the best co-workers throughout my time here. My new team is no exception. They’re very close-knit and when I joined, they instantly made me feel like a valued team member. Everyone is always encouraging and willing to help, which for me is a big motivator. I’ve spent a lot of time talking to my leader and other team members to learn about the team’s goals and the fact they’re available to share their thoughts with me has kept me connected and engaged since I started.

We always make sure that our cameras are on when we have team calls so that we can see each other. And once a week we have a ‘walking meeting’, where everyone goes for a walk and dials into the meeting via their mobile phone. We started this to make sure that we’re not always sitting at our desks and are getting a bit of a break.

You learn so much as a graduate at Telstra and it’s such an enjoyable place to work. Moving into a remote working situation, for the time being, has been made a lot easier by the supportive, friendly and engaged culture of the company, which has continued despite the shift into a virtual work environment. I feel very lucky to be a part of the Telstra team.

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