Michael works for Telstra from home – where he juggles a second job

Michael works for Telstra from home – where he juggles a second job

Many Victorians used COVID lockdowns to pursue a passion, or in the case of Michael*, start a business.

When working from home wasn’t encouraged, those who lived further away from their office could spend hours of their day commuting. But Michael now has an extra hour or 90 minutes each night to himself, which he’s used to maximum effect with his burgeoning music business.

“My manager knows about it, but as long as it is not impacting what I am doing with Telstra, they are fine with it,” he said. “It is really after hours 90 per cent of the time.

Michael has the time he’s got back working from home to start a music business.Credit: Illustration: Aresna Villanueva

“Telstra has always had this work-life balance thing anyway. Some type of jobs lend themselves to people being able to work more from home. You could have argued I could have worked from home all my career.”

In the Working from Home Diaries, we asked anonymous contributors to detail exactly what they do in a working day, from juggling online meetings and emails to school drop-offs, second jobs, the laundry and unloading the dishwasher. Scroll to the bottom to read about Michael’s working day.

As the latest census data shows that since the pandemic, more than 20 per cent (2.5 million) of 12 million employed people worked from home, Michael has made the shift a permanent part of his routine.

“The ability to own a business came through because I was working from home, otherwise I wouldn’t have taken it on,” he said.

“My business is in the music industry and most of it is after hours anyway. It is a side hustle. We love doing what we are doing, and we saw an opportunity and we took it.”

Michael said workplaces like his are becoming more trusting of their employees, and are fine with however they manage their day, as long as they deliver.

“The feeling of being micro-managed has sort of gone away a little bit,” he said. “There is a certain level of trust now.”

And his employer, as well as his new business, are able to reap the benefits.

“I enjoy what I am doing more working from home. With some jobs, you get treated like a child almost. Being able to work from home – it is like we are all grown-ups. It is that trust and accountability that we all enjoy having.”

How I divide my day:

7am: I get up at 7am rather than 5am now because I don’t have to commute. I fire up my laptop, check my emails and schedule for the rest of the day as far as meetings go. I try to do as much of my communication in the morning to get it out of the way. I’m having a coffee at the kitchen table, in my pyjamas with the radio on.

8am: Shower, then ring my parents to organise when I’m picking them up for a funeral later in the day. Then I let my team know what time I won’t be available.

8.30am: I make breakfast. My expenses have really reduced because I used to buy breakfast at work. I have a toasted egg, bacon and cheese sandwich. My partner is usually there, and we have a bit of a laugh, and then she goes to work.

8.45am: Back at my laptop going through some emails.

9.30am: Put the washing machine on. Just the darks – black jeans, black T-shirts. Go back to my computer. We have a [Microsoft] Teams conversation going on in the background with people instead of having the office chatter. We’ve also got a team group chat. It’s social stuff. What people did on the weekend and that sort of thing. I scroll through that as you will easily get 20 messages in spurts of 10 minutes. I like that I can read it when I want to, rather than listen when you are not in the mood.

10am: Writing a bit of process documentation, there’s been a little bit of a disconnect, which has created a few holes in some processes. Part of my job is to work out where those holes are.

11.30am: The washing is finished, so I put it in the dryer because I am lazy and don’t like hanging things out. I ring my partner to see if there’s anything that shouldn’t go in the dryer and I put that on the clothes horse. Then I go back to work.

12.00pm: I log off to pick up my parents for the funeral. I get changed into my funeral clothes and grab some clothes for my side hustle as well. I go to get my parents and one of their friends who doesn’t drive. They are in their 80s. I am the taxi for the day.

1pm: Someone rings me for my side hustle about running a vocal workshop. I message him back and confirm things, then I ring my partner to ask her to do an invoice for it.

2pm: I’m at the funeral, wondering why I’m there, because I don’t know these people. It wasn’t worth me going somewhere else and coming back because the window of time was too short. I drop my parents back at their house and get changed.

4pm: I start my side hustle. I do some sound engineering for a church group out at Dandenong. The church had refitted themselves with about $80,000 of sound gear, really nice mixers and subwoofers but are not good with running the equipment. While the church group is rehearsing, I teach them how to use it all and get a better sound.

6.30pm: I get home. I have timed it really well as my partner has dinner ready to go.

Read more in this series:

How working from home saved a corporate mum’s career

The man from a flexible workplace who is a reluctant work from home participant

The marketing boss and foodie who cooked a feast (while working)

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