In September 2019 my husband and I packed up our home in Sydney and moved to Dublin as I accepted a two-year assignment with ResMed in Ireland. This was to be an adventure of epic proportions and quite frankly, our first few months in Dublin flew by! We had the fortune of quickly finding a place to live in a nice village, settling into our jobs and taking advantage of weekends away throughout different parts of Europe.
The last few months can really be summed up as living through the ups and downs of a global pandemic. In and amongst all this, I think my experience of COVID-19 has been somewhat unique, crossing two continents, experiencing Australia’s hotel quarantine measures and figuring out how to continue contributing to my team in Dublin whilst being on the other side of the world.
I am an elected committee member of the Engineers Australia, Sydney Division committee. When I first moved to Ireland there were questions around my ability to contribute whilst in a foreign country and in different time zones. Working flexibly and maintaining commitments for me has meant that I don’t work consistent and regular hours - I fit work, voluntary commitments, exercise and doing the groceries into wherever works best for the week I’m having. This works for me as my role requires working across multiple time zones regularly.
Working flexibly and having the facilities to work remotely was something ResMed had already setup prior to the pandemic, however, mixing one’s home life with their work life continuously for months was certainly a new challenge. It took about two weeks to get into a rhythm.
About one month into lockdown, we decided to head back to Sydney for numerous reasons. Having remote working capabilities means that if I have a good internet connection (and time zones are in my favour) I can work from anywhere. With the support of ResMed, I was able to come back to Sydney for almost 3 months, working shifted days to maximise overlap with my team in Dublin.
Upon arrival in Sydney, I experienced the two-week quarantine in a Sydney hotel. The experience was better than I expected. Whilst there were no windows, we were well looked after, I got into a rhythm of working, studying and exercising the days away and in no time, I was back with the family.
The last 3 months have been spent working with my team in Dublin, collaborating to achieve the same goals and utilising digital collaboration tools to their fullest to maximise our output. The beauty of a time like this is that we have been able to knock down stereotypes around the reduced output of those who work remotely. We’ve normalised the fact that there is more to life than work and I think ultimately, this experience has increased empathy for our colleagues.
Over the last few months, I’ve seen so many teams I work with (both in a voluntary capacity and within my day job) transform into digital tool savvy, engaged and empathetic teams that deliver quality output. There is nothing stopping us from taking forward these skills and paradigms as we slowly return to ‘normal life’. When we do, please think carefully about what the new ‘normal’ is and take forward the things that served you during this extraordinary time.
Article submitted by: Varuni Fernando.