The rise of flexible working: how five women achieve
work-life balance by telecommuting


For many who work a traditional 9-5 office job, an average workday probably consists of a commute; followed by a series of emails, phone calls, meetings and endless staring at a computer screen.

For some, the 9-5 isn’t that at all – perhaps 9am-9pm would be more accurate?

But, increasingly people are recognising all work and no play doesn’t leave much time for everything else – family time, downtime, an actual weekend.

So in the bid to seek that utopian work-life balance, people are confidently requesting to telecommute.

With the ever-increasing number of internet-connected devices used at work and at home, telecommuting makes a lot of sense.

These remote-based workers, or ‘digital nomads’ as they often refer to themselves, have the flexibility to determine when and where they work so they can better manage and enjoy their personal lives.

Work Wise speaks to five women who negotiated flexible working arrangements

Bree Cowell, an IT support consultant for Job Adder, almost quit her job three years ago so she could travel.

Instead, her boss Brett Iredale encouraged to her to move to Bali and continue her job, working remotely.

Jessica Johnson-Shapter, who also works at Job Adder, wanted to leave the inner-city bustle to raise her family on the Tasmanian countryside.

Once again, Brett encouraged remote working and suggested Jessica make the move interstate but continue her role as a job board integration manager.

Jasmine Genau has been enjoying a flexible work arrangement since starting at her role as an account co-ordinator with SideKick Communications.

She credits her boss Kate for encouraging her to work from home on Mondays “to make our jobs enjoyable”.

Corina Kennedy, a marketing manager for Richard Lloyd Accounting Recruitment, negotiated, before being hired, to work three days at the office and one day working from home.

She has since re-negotiated a four-day week, with two days spent working from home.

Sandy Taylor juggles three roles as founder of her online retail business Easoto, a business development consultant for Myosh, and a charity advocate for White Ribbon Australia.

Other than spending one day per week at the Myosh office for meetings, she manages all three roles from home

How telecommuting improves work-life balance

Bree: Every day is a new adventure barefoot and free. No more gruelling rush hour traffic. It’s has saved me an extra two hours a day for yoga, beach time and friends.

I lead a nomadic lifestyle while fulfilling a rewarding professional career and travelling at the same time!

Corina: My hours are flexible so I’m often working earlier in the morning or later at night, which allows me to spend more time with my children during the day.

My eldest child started school this year and I’ve been able to be a classroom helper and attend a lot of school activities, which both of us enjoy, without having to take time away from the office.

Working from home also means I can manage household tasks such as washing throughout the day while I’m working, rather than having to do them at night when everyone is tired.

Sandy: I’m not spending useless hours commuting, I can be active and flexible with when I manage my two non-paid passions, I don’t have to ‘dress for the office’ unless I’m actually working away from home, and I can do house things during the day between work things.

Jasmine: I love that I can work in the comfort of my own home and that I don’t have to factor in travel time. I simply get up, have breakfast, and then start my day.

It also allows me to schedule my day (work or personal) according to my needs.

Jessica: Raising two children in Sydney and commuting long hours was not an ideal lifestyle I wanted for my family.

Out of the 24 hours in my day, I had just two of these for family time, which consisted of a mad rush to feed, bathe and run children off to their schools or to put them into bed.

Working remotely, I’ve cut down on travel time and I have more time to spend with my family.

Which technology devices and programs help make telecommuting easy

Bree: I use 100 per cent Cloud-based software programs, my iPhone and laptop.

Jessica: The beauty about is that the system is 100 per cent Cloud­based. I can take my work literally anywhere in the world.

Corina: My mobile phone is essential. I’m able to keep on top of emails anytime and respond to any questions quickly.

At home I work on a Mac desktop, standard Office programs and we use a Cloud-based environment at work, so I’m able to access all systems remotely without an issue.

I also find my iPad useful when I’m commuting to and from the office.

Jasmine: I heavily rely on my Mac, my phone, Dropbox, Microsoft Outlook for emails, Buffer for scheduling clients’ social media posts, Harvest for doing my timesheet, Facebook to manage our clients’ pages as well as LinkedIn.

Sandy: I use Skype extensively, and Myosh is Cloud-based. My mobile phone and iPad are also tools of the trade that I use to demonstrate Myosh software, and to check emails when I’m on the road.

What are the challenges of telecommuting

Bree: You have to be a certain type of person to work on your own all day long.

I’m an introvert, so it’s a serving space for me. If loneliness kicks in, I hang out at co-working spaces and cafes [where I can] interact with other digital nomads.

Jessica: Working remotely demands high levels of self-management skills and discipline.

Thankfully years of homeschooling have given me the skills needed to work autonomously.

However, I never underestimate the importance of belonging to a team and keeping in the loop with the organisation.

I keep up-to-date via our intranet site, whether it be posting a ‘shout out’ or wishing someone a happy birthday.