Despite work-from-home recommendations easing in Victoria, many regional workers with jobs in Melbourne are opting to stay put at home.
- The state government has rolled back restrictions on commuting to work
- Some regional residents with metropolitan jobs are reluctant to return to the office
- The push comes after about two years of pandemic movement restrictions
During the past two years of work from home, some regional workers have opted for jobs in Melbourne to develop professionally without compromising their country lifestyle.
Warragul resident Stacey Rosentreter had been trying to work from home since before the pandemic, after she had children.
“There’s just not many regional jobs that I want to do here, so I thought to myself, ‘why don’t I get a CBD job and keep working from home?'” Ms Rosentreter said.
During the pandemic, she was able to take on a public service role that would usually be based in Melbourne.
“The type of job [I have now is] more suitable to my skill set and pushing myself professionally,” she said.
Reaping benefits of regional living
Being able to do the drop-off, after-school activities and a load of washing during the day have benefited Ms Rosentreter’s lifestyle.
“You’re not coming home from work, and then [the chores are] all still waiting for you there.”
Ms Rosentreter had tried living in Melbourne for a year in 2016 when her husband landed a job in the city, but the couple ultimately chose to return to the regions.
With Ms Rosentreter’s husband Luke also now working from home, the couple has incorporated a large work studio into the design for their new house.
“Our studio space is probably bigger than our bedroom, so I understand why some people might have gotten on each other’s nerves [during lockdown],” she said.
She said the option to work from home has meant a noticeable change in West Gippsland’s demographic.
“Even in our social circles and places we go, new people have popped up who are from the city, and they bought a house down here,” she said.
More businesses to set up regional hubs
Business marketing and sales consultant James Cashmore said the pandemic had changed the relationship between employees and offices.
“It’s changed dramatically. Everything moved online,” he said.
For city-based businesses and employees, the ability to work from home has increased opportunities for people wanting to work for Melbourne-based businesses while living in the regions.
For businesses, it also means an increased talent pool to recruit from.
“Staff decided they’d go to other areas. Some of those are regional areas,” Mr Cashmore said.
“We now have people in Perth, Adelaide and New Zealand.”
He said employers should consider enabling flexible work arrangements to continue.
“It’s clear [some] employees want to work from home, where possible.
“Employers that embrace that and provide that level of flexibility, I think those employers will reap the benefits of good employees who’ll stay with them for a long time.”
Flexible work arrangements have already seen an increase in tree-changers since the start of the pandemic.
Mr Cashmore thinks this trend will continue.
“Employees [are] saying we want to go to these regional areas and live this lifestyle.
“The Bendigo area and regional Victoria should be expecting a flurry of organisations that will want to set up hubs there.”