David is joined by Professor Sharon Parker and Associate Professor Rebecca Cassells to discuss the impact of COVID-19 on the Australian economy, and how the pandemic may reshape the future of business and the work place.
Automation and AI were tipped to revolutionise the workplace, but it’s been a virus that’s brought real change. COVID-19 has stalled the global economy, with the UN predicting cutbacks equivalent to nearly 200 million full-time workers by July.
In The Future Of Work, Associate Professor Rebecca Cassells from the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre, outlines the impact of the pandemic on Australian jobs, including the people and industries most affected, and the wider societal effects of mass unemployment.
Rebecca is joined by Professor Sharon Parker, Director of the Centre for Transformative Work Design at Curtin University, who explores how the ‘working from home’ phenomenon has helped bolster Australia’s economy and how people can work most effectively from home to support their mental health.
Rebecca and Sharon also consider how COVID-19 could be the catalyst for greater workplace flexibility, stronger mental health initiatives and evolutions in economic trade.
Curtin University supports academic freedom of speech. The views expressed in The Future Of podcast may not reflect those of the university.
Music: OKAY by 13ounce Creative Commons — Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported — CC BY-SA 3.0 Music promoted by Audio Library
You can read the full transcript of the episode here.
Speaker 1: 00:00 This is The Future Of, where experts share their vision of the future and how their work is helping shape it for the better.
David: 00:10 My name is David Blayney. Some of us have been fortunate enough to continue working through the COVID-19 pandemic, albeit from home. Many of us haven't been very lucky though. In Australia, physical distancing rules are expected to put more than a million people out of work in the next 12 months, sending an already tapered economy into recession.
David: 00:35 Today, we're talking about how the pandemic will reshape our economy and how we work long after this crisis is over. Joining me today is Professor Sharon Parker, the Director of the Center For Transformative Work Design at Curtin University, and Associate Professor Rebecca Cassells, a Research Fellow at the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre. Thanks for joining me, Sharon and Rebecca.
Sharon: 00:58 Thanks, David. It's great to be here.
Rebecca: 00:59 Yeah, great to be here, David. Thank you.
David: 01:00 Rebecca, when we look at the economy as a whole, just how big is the impact of COVID-19 going to be?
Rebecca: 01:11 Well, we keep hearing this word unprecedented and I think it really is the most appropriate word to describe what we're seeing at the moment in terms of the health response to the pandemic itself, but also the impact on the economy and the economic response, or the policy response by government to that. So, we have seen in a matter of just weeks around a million people in Australia out of work. Now that's on top of the already 700,000 people that were actually unemployed.
Rebecca: 01:41 So we're actually getting to a stage very quickly where a lot of people are out of work. A lot of businesses are closing down and there's a lot of very, very large impacts on the economy and on our living standards really. And the welfare of people that are directly affected by these job losses. So it is unprecedented, and I think that the response by government is unprecedented as well, but it's one of the biggest crises we've had in, well, in lifetimes, really.
David: 02:13 Who is facing the brunt of the economic fallout - I mean, obviously all of us are affected, but who's feeling it the hardest?
Rebecca: 02:23 So the workers really that have had to ... They're working in businesses that effectively had been told to close their doors or to really restrict trade. And so we know that most of these workers are in the hospitality sector. So they've been working in cafes and restaurants and in pubs and clubs, and that's about a one million strong workforce.
Rebecca: 02:42 Now we estimated, the Bankwest Curtin Economic Centre estimated when we first saw the pandemic starting to appear and these restrictions come in place, we estimated around 1.1- 1.2 million people would lose their jobs on top of the 700,000 that are already unemployed. We're actually saying that that's likely to be more. We've already seen around a third of that workforce, the hospitality workforce, lose their job. We predicted half the workforce and it is quite likely that in that sector, we are going to see about a 50 per cent job loss in accommodation and food services.
Rebecca: 03:22 Now the workers in this sector are primarily young people and they're the people that we've seen lose their jobs, so people in their twenties and people in their late teens. But we're also seeing that the job losses have been impacted by ... Women are seeing more job losses than men. And that's because of a couple of reasons, obviously because women will be more likely to work in these sectors, but also the way in which women work. And so we also know that women are more likely to be in casual employment and a lot of these casual workers, the short term casuals, haven't been eligible for the Job Keeper payments. So women are way more likely to have lost their job, unfortunately.
David: 04:06 Sharon, working from home has kept many of us in work. What are the pros and cons of working in this sort of working setting?
Sharon: 04:16 Yeah, well, I guess the first pro is that we're actually able to continue working. And as you say, in some senses, we are a little bit the lucky ones compared to those people who have already lost their job. And I started a podcast series on our Centre For Transformative Work Design website, and that was actually the very first podcast that I did. Why should we even care about this topic? Because in the face of job losses and health issues, who cares about people working from home?
Sharon: 04:50 But one of the things that I thought it was important to mention was, first of all, in a sense, we need to be effective working at home to help this very fragile economy that Rebecca has just talked about. So we sort of need all hands on deck and if we can work at home, we should be doing it as productively as we can.
Sharon: 05:10 And of course the other factor is, before the pandemic, mental health was a big issue in workplaces. And we had up to one in five Australians suffering from poor mental health. And we all know that poor work can contribute to mental health issues. So another reason for us really giving some attention to this topic of working at home was to ask the question, how can we work at home in a way that is most likely to support our mental health?
Sharon: 05:39 And so in terms of the pros and cons, being able to actually continue work is an obvious pro. But there can be some other pros of working from home. And actually, the research that's been conducted before the pandemic,tThere's been a lot of research on telecommuters or people who don't work in the office. And actually, that research tends to suggest that people who work from home are more productive and more engaged and less likely to leave their jobs and so on.
Sharon: 06:10 But one of the things, and one of the reasons we embarked on some research on this topic, is because that prior research has really sort of in a sense studied the privileged few, because working from home was not widespread. I think in Australia, the figure is about 30 per cent of people were working from home, but just occasionally, maybe one day a week or half a day a week or something like that.
Sharon: 06:36 And so we really went that that traditional research that's investigated telecommuting has really considered a very sort of biased sample. So the people who want to work from home, the people whose managers trust them to work from home and so I think some of the benefits that we've seen from that sort of work reflect the choice and the trust and things of the managers. And that's why it's actually been important.
Sharon: 07:04 We've just commenced and we've had more than 1,500 people do a survey on working from home during this pandemic to really try and understand, well, what are the pros and cons of this form of work at this time? Because it's not a normal time because many people are working from home, not through choice. And people are not necessarily ... My partner has just brought me a coffee. So that's very nice. That doesn't happen at work.
Sharon: 07:30 So, yeah, people are working not necessarily with choice. Also, of course, people have had their children home from school, people have had to set up really rapidly. People are working from home, even when their work isn't very conducive to working from home. So there's a whole bunch of sort of additional cons right now around working from home that make it more challenging, maybe, than it would be in normal times, if that makes sense.
David: 07:59 And I guess you don't have the same sort of staples of working in a normal workplace. You don't have that routine of grabbing a coffee with your work buddies.
Sharon: 08:12 Yeah. I think that's a good term. I think-
David: 08:18 Colleagues.
Sharon: 08:19 Some of the challenges ... Colleagues, yes, it's probably more appropriate. Some of the challenges of working from home, and we just finished a study in China, actually, that we conducted during the lockdown of around about 550 workers, and there were four key challenges that they identified and one of them was loneliness. So people feeling lonely because of this disconnection from colleagues.
Sharon: 08:46 Another one was procrastination and being distracted. So because a lot of people are working from home, maybe for the first time, they haven't got their routines in place. And they haven't sort of learnt that skill of being able to focus and concentrate when there's not so much structure.
Sharon: 09:05 And the third challenge was poor communication qualities that we've had some technical issues today already with the internet. Those sorts of things can be a challenge for people. And the fourth one was home/work conflict. And so on that one, traditionally, working from home has been a way to sort of help balance home/work issues. Like if you work from home, you're a bit more flexible and you can run the kids to school or whatever. But because schools have been closed, in fact, it's probably gone the other way. And home/work conflict has been worse because people are working at home without necessarily having childcare or the kids at school, and that's caused a lot of challenges for many people.
David: 09:54 Not everyone can work from home. Many of us have been laid off. How is mass unemployment going to affect the economy as a whole, not just the hip pockets of the individuals, but also the businesses, the butchers, the bakers, the candlestick makers.
Rebecca: 10:12 Look, I think Sharon's very raised a really important point there around it's actually being able to work from home is a case of almost the haves and the have nots in the workplace at the moment. So there are those that can comfortably work from home. They don't necessarily have kids to look after or other distractions or conflicts at home. And they've got all the tech that they need and a great internet connection, which we're all struggling with at the moment.
Rebecca: 10:43 But there's also those whose job is completely unsuitable to work from home. And really, many of these people, and we've seen it already, are going to end up on unemployment benefits and not able to work. And I think this is problematic for a number of reasons. Obviously, this is going to decrease their standard of living, especially if the unemployment benefits that are available are lower than what they were receiving in the workplace.
Rebecca: 11:11 But jobs don't only matter for the wage that you receive. Obviously, that's a really big part of it, but jobs actually matter for a whole host of other reasons. And Sharon's touched on those I think quite well. And I think the social connectedness is really, really important for many people and there's thousands and thousands of Australians that live alone.
Rebecca: 11:33 For many people, actually going to a job every day is the only social contact that they have with another human in any day. So that's really problematic and loneliness is going to be and is a huge issue at the moment for these people, especially if we've had to constrict or confine ourselves to the home. Jobs also give us a sense of identity and purpose. And if we don't have that in our day to day structure, then that actually introduces a whole host of mental health and social issues that we are seeing actually start to come about at this point in time.
Rebecca: 12:09 But mass unemployment as well in terms of the economic impact of that, this is problematic just for so many reasons. I mean, if you've all of a sudden got millions of people in your workforce, a really high percentage, moving on to unemployment and moving to a lower income, that's going to have flow-on effects to the whole economy. That's going to affect consumption. It's going to affect demand, which obviously impacts businesses in their ability to operate. The more that we reduce the goods and service that we were previously buying, this places a whole heap of pressure on businesses and it increases the risk of further layoffs and job failures and business failures and people losing their jobs. So it's actually really, really problematic.
Rebecca: 12:56 It's also problematic for another reason which is how do we actually support these people that move into unemployment? And the government, I think, has done a really good job of that so far. They've doubled the unemployment benefit, Job Seeker, and that's a really big policy move to make. So moving from $550 a week to $1,100 a fortnight, rather, and doubling that is, I think, a really appropriate measure to take.
Rebecca: 13:26 But it also costs a lot of money to be able to support that. Australia's in a great position to be able to do that at the moment. But whether or not we can sustain that type of income support or social security safety net is actually going to be quite challenging in the future. But at the moment we're actually okay. And thankfully, we're in an economy and have a really good functioning government that we are able to offer these sorts of social insurance, social safety nets. Other countries are not so lucky.
Sharon: 14:03 Can I pick up on a couple of points there? Yeah. Thanks Rebecca. And I think your comment at the beginning, when you talked about how people working from home, there's in some sense the haves and have nots, actually, I just did some super quick analyses on some of the data we've got from the 1,500 or so people that have done our working from home survey. And there's real splits in the data.
Sharon: 14:30 There are maybe about a third of people who are, as you say, very able to get on with their work. Many of them are actually reporting being even more productive because they've got less commuting, they've got less distraction. But there's also a good third of people who are really struggling with either having bosses who are micromanaging, sort of tethering them to the desk and not allowing them to get up and even get a coffee.
Sharon: 14:56 We've got people who are really struggling to manage the childcare. And one of the things that really struck me in the data was the level of job insecurity, so to speak. I mean, people are very, very ... Even people who have got work, and obviously, in that sense, are lucky, many people are very, very worried about their future job prospects. And that has a huge impact actually on the quality of people's lives.
Sharon: 15:24 So one of the things I looked at in the study was the level of psychological distress in the sample. And I sort of had to do the analysis about three times because I was just shocked to discover the level of psychological distress. We did some research on, just to take a small deviation, we did some research on FIFO workers last year. And we found that 33 per cent of FIFO workers had high or very high psychological distress. And that compares to about 17 per cent in the average Australian population.
Sharon: 15:58 So in the data analysis that I did the other night, and this is only preliminary analysis, so you can't go to the news with it yet, but the figure was 34.5 per cent. So 34.5 per cent of people in our sample, and these are all working people had high or very high levels of psychological distress. And one of the strongest predictors, there were a few strong predictors, but one of them was job insecurity.
Sharon: 16:23 So I started out by saying that people working from home are lucky and some of us most definitely are. But there are people working from home who are really struggling and particularly worrying about the future and their future job prospects.
Rebecca: 16:39 Sharon, this is exactly what these surveys that you are doing and research you're doing sounds so important. And this is exactly the type of results that the new household impacts of COVID-19 survey that the Australian Bureau of Statistics have put out show. So the release of that, they're doing releases, I think, every fortnight. So the ABS have actually been very, very proactive with getting new data collections to understand how households are travelling, how businesses are travelling and, obviously, the workforce really, really important to know and have some high frequency data.
Rebecca: 17:13 But they've shown that almost twice as many Australians now report feelings of nervousness or restlessness and anxiety as well, compared to what they did in ... I think they've compared it to the 2017/18 National Health Survey. So 35 per cent reported feeling nervous and 42 per cent restless. And there was also a number of other sort of psychological indicators that they use.
Rebecca: 17:39 And that's really almost doubled. The restlessness has doubled compared to a baseline pre the pandemic. And these are really concerning findings really, because mental health has already been such a big issue in our community. And it impacts on so many different aspects of people's lives and people having to care for people with mental health. So this increase is actually, I think, something that government really needs to start addressing and looking at quite a lot more than what they are.
Rebecca: 18:10 The other issue that we're finding at the moment around the impacts of the pandemic and actually being restricted to our homes is an increase in domestic violence reporting. So that's another problem that we're seeing where there's a lot of pressure being placed on families, a lot of pressure when you're actually confined to the same space. And we've seen that data to start to come through as well. So that's another issue that the pandemic is drawing out.
Sharon: 18:42 Yeah, thanks Rebecca. And those statistics, which I'll have a look at, pretty much exactly the same as what we're showing. And one of the things I did was some quick analysis, just to see what is predicting the level of mental health in our sample. And I was actually very surprised that the normal things that we would expect came out. So not having enough connection with people, sort of not having sufficient autonomy in your work. All those things came out and they are things we would expect.
Sharon: 19:16 But some of the things that surprised me, number one was the job insecurity is huge. The next one was technology hassles is a huge correlate of stress. And I had a really bad technology day yesterday, everything went wrong and I was really relating to that finding. But one of the other interesting things is not having enough to do seemed to be a very strong predictor of distress.
Sharon: 19:41 And I think that's partly then fuels these perceptions of job insecurity. Like if people haven't got enough to do at the moment they start worrying, "Well, am I now going to become redundant because people are going to realise that I haven't got enough work to do." So it may be something that if you're a manager, you could try to do something about.
Sharon: 20:01 And then the fourth one that was sort of surprising was this monitoring. So if you have a manager, and it seems about one third of people have a manager that does this, if you have a manager that is basically just expecting you to be present the whole time, who's constantly checking up on you and who's sort of monitoring all the time the inputs of your work, instead of focusing on the outputs, which is what we'd recommend, then that's also very stressful.
David: 20:32 A third!
Sharon: 20:32 So I think that ... Yeah, I know. I was, again, a little surprised by that. There's probably about 20 per cent that are experiencing it very strongly. And then there's about another 10 per cent that is saying, "Yeah, this is a bit of an issue." And then the rest are sort of reasonably okay. But I think one of the things about some of these sort of findings is they do suggest that managers can make a big difference.
Sharon: 21:00 So some of the things we can't control, it's very difficult for people to control the economic situation. And so they are a little bit out of people's hands, but some things are in people's hands. And one of those is that managers can actually change their behaviour. And actually, in our Chinese study as well, we found the single most important predictor of people being able to focus, people feeling less lonely and people having less home/work challenge was having a supportive supervisor.
Sharon: 21:32 So I think if you're a manager and you're listening to this, there's actually a lot that you can do that's within your power that's actually going to make it a better experience for people and mitigate some of these mental health issues that, as Rebecca's just talked about, are really becoming very concerning for Australians.
David: 21:50 How is the shift that we've taken to working from home? How's that going to affect us the way that we work in the long term and is it going to?
Sharon: 22:03 Yeah, well, I think David, it would sort of be a shame if it didn't affect the way we work in the long term, because as I started out by saying at the beginning of the session, research shows that there are some benefits of teleworking or working from home. It does allow a space where people can concentrate with less distraction, less wasted time, communicating. Sorry, less wasted time commuting, I should say, not communicating.
Sharon: 22:32 So there are benefits of being able to work from home, just not all the time under the circumstances that we're currently experiencing, I guess. So what I'm really hoping is that, as we move forward, there will be some learning from the situation. After all, many of us have got skilled up. We can all do Zoom at the drop of a hat and we can do Teams and Skype, and we have, in a way, learnt how to work much more effectively as a telecommuter.
Sharon: 23:03 And hopefully, some managers have learned how to manage us more effectively as well. So there's a lot of learning. And I hope that into the future that we retain some of that flexibility, partly because I think it makes people's lives better. It allows them to juggle home and work, which is a big challenge in normal life.
Sharon: 23:21 It allows people to concentrate and get a bit more focused on those tasks that need it. And, of course, it's going to keep us flexible if ever this situation emerged again or if there's a second wave or whatever. So my hope, and I think my expectation, is that there is now going to be more flexible working when we return to work. So more hybrid working where people work from home, but also work in the office and are sort of selective about which tasks they do where and so on.
Sharon: 23:53 We've got the technology, we've had the technology for years actually, to work much more flexibly. But what we haven't had is this sort of sign on from the managers and we've had all these fears about, "Oh, people won't be productive" and so on. So I'm really hoping that there will be a more permanent shift in the level of flexible working post pandemic.
Rebecca: 24:12 And I think one of the other things I'm really hopeful is that we're actually seeing men take up these flexible working arrangements a little bit more. For a very long time, it was a story around enabling flexible work and working from home with the story now around enabling women to be able to combine that with caring for children and caring for others. But let's hope that some of the gendered nature of our workplaces and our roles does change as well from this pandemic. And that we do see more men actually taking a greater responsibility in the household and for caring and also taking up the flexible working arrangements.
Rebecca: 24:50 The reduction in commuting times is quite substantial as well. And time, as we know, is one of our most precious assets. It's really the currency that we deal in in nearly everything that we do, including economics. If we can actually reduce that commuting time, there's obviously environmental impacts of that, but there's also more time for actually being at home and maybe taking that walk each day and getting out, getting out of sitting in front of the computer.
Rebecca: 25:20 But again, it is a matter of who can actually do that and who is working in, I guess, a white collar position and able to sit in front of your desktop and undertake your work. And plenty of other people in other jobs don't actually have that capability. You can't necessarily take your supermarket checkout back to your lounge room.
Sharon: 25:43 Yeah. And that's interesting about the gendered nature of work and I agree with you, Rebecca, that there's been this sort of framing of flexible working as something for women, which is really frankly annoying, framing. So I hope, too, that it might change. I'm probably less optimistic about that, to be honest. I suspect there might be some flexible working for men, but I guess what I'm less optimistic about is the shared allocation of domestic duties. But, I hope I'm proved wrong.
Rebecca: 26:20 I do too. I think we have seen that women are actually ... There's a lot of pressure placed on women in these circumstances and they typically are still doing the lion's share of the housework and the childcare. And we're also saying that women are more likely to be impacted by job losses at the moment. So it is, unfortunately ... Our workplaces and the labour market is gendered in general.
Rebecca: 26:49 And I think our lives at home do have that gendered nature, too, but let's hope that it can start to shift and at least, there might be a greater appreciation of having to do both when you're both at home together, if that's the case.
David: 27:09 Rebecca, the dramatic changes to our economy has sparked a bit of a discussion about free trade versus I guess economic sovereignty, I guess, is the term that's been floating around a bit. Do you think we're turning a corner, perhaps?
Rebecca: 27:30 Well, one of the sort of most fundamental lessons you learn in first year economics, in fact, my daughter is studying it at the moment by correspondence, of course, so online, everything shifted online, is around free trade and the benefits of free trade to countries but to also consumers. Free trade is incredibly important for our wellbeing and our living standards. It introduces competition, it introduces levels of innovation that we aren't able to actually access and ultimately, free trade in a perfect kind of world does make a consumer better off because there where we're able to afford things at a cheaper price and we're actually able to get a hold of goods and services that we can't necessarily create in our own country or in our own labour markets.
Rebecca: 28:27 But at the same time, we have seen in this pandemic actually place a great deal of pressure on supply chains of essential goods that we do need to operate as an economy. And some of those goods have been around medicines and healthcare products, PPE equipment, that's come into play. But also technical supply chains that are needed to produce other goods that we're actually manufacturing here in Australia.
Rebecca: 29:02 And so I think this pandemic has actually exposed a couple of things in relation to Australia or in relation to probably everybody, but one of them is really our heavy reliance on particular trade partners. And China would be one of those. But it shows how much we do benefit from trade as well.
Rebecca: 29:22 So it may be that we, out of necessity, do need to actually start pivoting and making things in Australia. And we have seen that happen. We have seen a number of businesses innovate and start producing things that either we were running short of or we actually weren't producing here in Australia.
Rebecca: 29:40 And we saw that particularly around hand sanitisation. That was completely out of...we couldn't get any of that coming in, importing that in anymore. And we actually had to start making it here in Australia. And so we saw some of the gin distilleries, I think in Western Australia actually, start change what they were producing and starting to produce hand sanitiser.
Rebecca: 30:03 We also saw that the ventilator equipment that's required for people if they do contract COVID-19, that we didn't necessarily have access to that. Now we have been able to get our hands on quite a number of those, but the equipment or the attachments that need to be replaced every time they are used, we've seen a number of firms, manufacturing firms in Australia, actually start to change what they've been outputting and start to develop these pieces of equipment.
Rebecca: 30:38 So necessity has actually, I think, invigorated some of the manufacturing components or manufacturing sector of Australia. But trade, ultimately, is something that we need to have and we need to make sure that trade can actually resume once we're sort of past the pandemic and able to open up our borders and boundaries. And hopefully, that won't be too far away.
Sharon: 31:08 I think Rebecca's point there about sort of at a more macroeconomic perspective, manufacturing and so on, sort of adapting and making new products and things, one of my observations also has been just locally, how, for example, different coffee shops have responded, different restaurants have responded to their challenges. Even, for example, the physio that I go to, I've seen a lot of variation in different responses. And some, for example, a little local coffee shop that my husband just brought me a coffee from, they've been super innovative. They set up an online ordering system. They've been selling some new products and so on. And they've sort of seized this opportunity and created actually more business, I suspect, as a result of that pandemic.
Sharon: 31:58 And then other coffee shops nearby have just closed. So there's been this very big variation, even just locally in sort of how much people have been able to successfully adapt and innovate in the light of the challenges. And I think that we sort of we need that generally. And generally, that's a predictor of success in businesses, but also individually.
Sharon: 32:23 And I guess I just wanted to make the point that this sort of need to adapt is really fundamental and we've seen it so clearly with the pandemic. But it's important capability that we need to foster into the future, I think, as well.
David: 32:41 And one last question for you, Sharon. So a little bonus question. Do you have any tips and tricks to help us adjust to working from home?
Sharon: 32:52 I certainly do. In fact, I've been doing a series of blogs and videos and that's on transformativeworkdesign.com, one word, and you can follow through to the links there. I think the main thing to recognise is that people are having somewhat different challenges and depending on the challenges depends on the tips and tricks that'll work.
Sharon: 33:16 So, for example, I mentioned before, there are some people who haven't got enough to do and they're really bored. So, what the podcast there is about how you might craft your job or learn new skills. Just before this pandemic, we were having so much conversation about the future of work and AI and digitalisation and how it's going to be fundamental that people learn new skills in order to survive in this new world and so on. So if people are bored and haven't got enough to do, what skills could they be learning? There's a lot of open education courses out there that people can do.
Sharon: 33:54 So for those people, maybe crafting your work, trying to make it more challenging and interesting and taking on some new skills might work. But there's other people out there who are having back-to-back Zoom meetings and working harder than ever and who are absolutely exhausted and burnt out. For those people, I would have different tips. And I just did a podcast about Zoom zombies and about some of the strategies that you can use to make Zoom less exhausting. For example, having shorter Zoom conversations is one.
Sharon: 34:29 And then, of course, there's another group of people that are really struggling to focus and concentrate, getting easily distracted, or having children in the house and so on. And for those again, some of the most important things can be around imposing structure. So having somewhere specific that you work, having a clear schedule of exactly what you're going to achieve that day with lots of breaks in between. Those sorts of activities to get your focus.
Sharon: 34:59 So I wrote a blog, for example, on the importance of getting dressed. And really, that was just about the importance, I guess, of sort of activating your worker identity and if you stay in your pyjamas all day, you don't necessarily help yourself get into a work mindset. But so the getting dressed is sort of really just symbolic of doing what you need to do to get yourself in a structured mindset. So I guess there's a lot of tips and tricks out there, David.
Sharon: 35:20 But what people need is different according to their particular challenges. So I encourage people to have a look at the website and the videos and sort of choose the issues that are most affecting them. But there is plenty people can do. And I encourage people to do it because as we sort of said at the beginning, it's really important that people are as productive as they can be because we've got this fragile economy that we've got to try and do everything we can to boost. And we also have this big challenge of mental health. So people need to take action themselves as much as they can to make sure they stay healthy and well during this time.
Rebecca: 36:15 Go for a walk, a walk every day. I think that's been my tip and trick for working from home, which is what I've done for well, six years I've been working from home. So I do have a comparative advantage, I've been telling everybody. But it has been different actually, lately for me, working from home. And I do feel that there's ... I can relate to the Zoom Zombie very much, Sharon. But I'm making sure at least every day that I'm going out for a walk for 20 minutes to an hour. And I think that's really, really important at this time. We need our vitamin D as well, so we should be doing that.
Sharon: 36:47 Yeah. That's right. And some people who are isolated, feeling lonely, again, that's probably not us if you're a Zoom zombie because you're talking to people all day long, but there are people who are out there who've been lonely. And in the normal workplace, you bump into people, it's just natural. It happens. Here, you have to be a bit more proactive and actually reach out to people. So, take a bit of control and call people or contact people. So yeah, I think there's plenty that people can do. It's just a matter of finding the things that work for you.
David: 37:20 That's a pretty good tip to leave us with. Well, thank you very much, both Sharon and Rebecca, for joining us.
Rebecca: 37:29 Thanks, David, pleasure.
Sharon: 37:30 Yeah. Thanks David. It's been great to chat.
David: 37:31 You've been listening to The Future Of, a podcast powered by Curtin University. If you have any questions about today's topic, please feel free to get in touch by following the links in our show notes. Bye for now.