Working from home – it’s been the hot topic since 2020 for most of the office-based workforce. But IT professionals who’ve been working before then will probably know, there’s been ‘WFH’ in place for tech for some time now.
Even still, it’s exploded in popularity since the pandemic, as organisations became more equipped to deal with events that prevent their teams from accessing their office spaces. Auckland’s a sprawling city that brings with it a serious commute for many across the region. That, along with other reasons, have made remote working more popular in Auckland.
But how can IT professionals find, and flourish in a role that’s based at least partly from home?
Let’s dive into this topic a bit more in our full guide below:
WFH is growing in popularity – why?
While initially a business continuity demand for employers, working remotely from home has evolved into a sweetener to attract good tech talent to their business. We know better than anyone just how tricky it can be to source great IT professionals in New Zealand – the country has long struggled to fulfil their ever-growing technology requirements. Enabling techies to work their job from home in Auckland some of the time is another way to offer flexibility in an employment contract that others may not agree to.
Working from home also opens up opportunities for tech professionals and employers to engage with each other without even being in the same city. For that reason, Auckland-based tech professionals might not even need to find an Auckland based employer to work with.
More commonly, however, is the hybrid model; the employee or contractor works some of the time onsite at the business’ office and some of the time at home.
The benefits of working at home in tech
Working from home in the tech space has a number of upsides that we’ve heard from our IT professional community:
- No commute – ability to start work earlier and finish earlier, run school drop offs, or simply get more sleep!
- Comfort of your own home and amenities – no more sharing the bathroom with workmates!
- Make your own lunch in your own kitchen – cheaper than buying it and nicer than packing it.
- With the right set up, your home office can be distraction-free.
- Better work-life balance given the reduction in commute.
- Many report being able to focus and get more work done in the same period of time.
Drawbacks of working from home
There are of course, a few reasons why working from home in Auckland as a tech professional might not be all smooth sailing:
- Not having in person interaction with your teammates.
- Getting ‘cabin fever’ by working and living in your home week after week.
- Social isolation and mental health challenges.
- Having less opportunity to catch up with friends at lunch breaks.
- Missing important information that may otherwise be discussed ‘between’ meetings, such as informal chats or comments in the office.
- Technology troubles – sometimes the employer will have strict IT requirements around security, access and internet usage that can make working from home a bit complicated.
- You’ll need to have some space where you can work without lots of distractions from family members, pets and chores to be done.
- Out of sight out of mind? It’s worth thinking about your own personal ‘brand’ in the IT sector – how many opportunities are you getting to meet new people by working from home?
The hybrid work model – a popular approach for Auckland employers and employees
We help Auckland-based employers find tech talent every day. More commonly than full remote work, are working arrangements that allow employees to do some of the job from their home.
Hybrid working aims to get the best of both worlds.
Tech professionals can get flexibility around office hours that allow them to take care of life admin and avoid some commuting, but will be in the workplace for important meetings and tasks that require it.
Every employer is different with the hours, days and types of work that are best done onsite vs. from home. These are details to be worked through during the hiring process.
We encourage both professionals and businesses to find a good balance between flexibility and function – the job still needs to be done well for it to work.
Finding a role that offers flexibility
Ideally, a job that will offer a certain amount of flexibility with remote work will detail this in their job ad. But it’s worth exploring this further should you advance to the interview stage.
Make sure you’re clear on what your needs are specifically from a flexible work situation – do you need to leave early for school pickups? Are there certain days you’d want to be in the office? If you’ve got a position on these things, you’ll at least know whether an employer can accommodate you. Like everything, you will often need to compromise so that both you and the employer generally are happy.
Some workplaces are more sophisticated than others here; so if you don’t immediately find a work opportunity that meets your needs for remote working, the next role and employer may well do so.
Approaching the application and interview process
Just because a job ad doesn’t state flexible working as a benefit, doesn’t mean that employers won’t come to the party in this area. Auckland’s tech industry has the need for good, experienced talent and for the right person will likely be ready to negotiate the terms of the employment agreement – including remote work and flexible hours. So by all means, apply for jobs you believe you could really thrive in – and have the conversation with the hiring manager or recruiter should you get to the next stage.
Once a phone conversation has happened, and the employer is keen to talk more, the next stage is likely a more formal job interview. In this interview you’ll want to chat through what the expectations are in terms of when you’re in the office vs. able to work from home. Be careful not to simply state your needs, but actually ask how the employer typically approaches this and their views on it. This will help you work through those details in a more tactful way. But do be clear if you simply need a hybrid work arrangement as the employer will want to know this as early as possible – it can help weigh into their consideration on which candidate to hire.
Finally, a word on where the job interview happens. Our recommendation is that if you’re able to get to the employer’s office in Auckland for the job interview, you should make that trip. Many employers will insist on this anyway, but as an IT professional it’s good form to make that effort to meet hiring managers in person if you progress to that stage. It can make the interview less transactional and allows for more natural flowing conversation.
Don’t skip onboarding and relationship building
And those in person interactions in the interview should continue on into your employment with the business. Getting to know a new employer takes time, but you can really speed things up by going through proper onboarding (onsite) and spending more time in the office meeting your team mates in person and getting across work.
You might find that the first 3 months or so are more ‘in office’ than ‘at home’, simply to establish best practices, train up and connect with your colleagues. As you get into the work and become comfortable with how things operate at your new employer, working remotely becomes much easier for everyone.
Setting up your home for productive IT work
Getting ready for remote work at home does take a bit of planning. Sure, plenty of us will park up at the kitchen table with a laptop for a few hours of work, but any long term WFH arrangements for a tech professional warrants a proper office set up.
- A quiet office area that can accommodate a desk and equipment.
- A good computer (maybe a work laptop).
- A large screen that enables multiple windows and multitasking.
- Some capable headphones with a microphone for video conferencing.
- Plenty of natural light if possible.
- Heating and cooling so you can concentrate year round.
- A webcam that sits on the top of your monitor.
- Enough power outlets for all your peripherals and computer.
Time and task management on your own – tips for staying on track
All of us in the tech sector have to have a certain degree of self-starting and organisation ability to do well. But working remotely will mean that you’ll have fewer interactions with your manager than you might do working alongside them in the office.
Tech teams often rely on software that captures the status of WIP and any projects, which does make everyone more accountable and on track. These are even more critical for IT professionals working from home – it’s visibility of the status of work and also any context like files or team discussions that ensure you’re focusing on the right tasks. The popular ‘daily standup’ ritual for tech teams is another crucial element of staying connected and focused on what matters.
Among those tools and meetings, you have a workday to manage yourself. Working at home adds the challenge of distractions like taking the dog for a walk, getting the kids started with homework or putting that load of washing out on the line. These might be viewed as some benefits of remote work, but at the same time can interrupt momentum.
Take care to protect big blocks of work, and even consider scheduling in time for short breaks where you give your eyes a rest from the computer while getting some of those pesky chores done at the same time.
Being more proactive around time management at home also gives team managers more visibility and confidence in what their team is doing each day. Honesty and transparency are good rules to follow in this area!
Protecting the line between work and life when it’s all happening at home
Chat to anyone in the IT sector during the 2020 pandemic, as most will have some stories or thoughts about what it was like to be stuck at home day after day. Work and life melded together at times.
This is a common occurrence for IT professionals working from home; their work and home lives become indistinguishable from each other. In our view, this is a risky situation for professionals and employers alike.
IT professionals who don’t have methods to separate their work activity from their family and personal life activity at home can easily start to feel like they’re ‘always working’. Even being able to see your work set up at home from living areas can be tempting enough for us to check those latest emails or progress on a project. That can mean families don’t have your undivided attention, and we end up working far more hours than you need to.
A good work-life balance relies on your ability to ‘switch off’, so if your home environment and rituals don’t put a line between work and personal life, you may never feel like you really can ‘switch off’.
And on the employers’ side, they deserve to feel confident that during agreed work hours, you’re committed and prioritising the work you have. This may mean setting expectations at home around when you’re available to chat or do jobs. A common complaint we hear about families trying remote working for the first time is their kids or partners’ consideration of this boundary. It’s something that’s worth chatting through as early as possible, and calling out if this is ever being tested too much.
Feeling disconnected from the business and the world
We’ve touched on the drawbacks of feeling isolated through remote working in Auckland. From a career perspective, WFH without careful effort to communicate to the business frequently can lead to you being disconnected with the business – this might be obvious things like missing on informal chats about decisions. But it can also be a more general feeling that you’re not in step with where the business is going or indeed what their values are. This sort of thing can make it harder to foster a tight knit culture as team members have less to do with each other.
To combat this, both IT professionals and employers should prioritise communication across the team. This includes 1-1 catch ups, group meetings and social events. Some may happen virtually, but some should be in person if possible.
If you’re an IT professional and working remotely while wrestling with these feelings of isolation, the first thing you should do is go into the workplace or even just meet a team member in the CBD. Getting out of the house generally is really important during the work week. It’s easy for busy IT staff to feel like a work week has been one, continuous day.
Reimagining your local suburb and area as your own ‘CBD’
Avoiding the commute into Auckland’s busy city centre is a perk for many remote IT workers in the region. But as we’ve touched on above, you simply don’t want your life to become your home.
One approach we’ve seen work well is to venture out into your local suburbs’ main streets or villages. You’ll start to know the best cafes, spots to park up with a computer and even where to meet others to talk business.
Chat to us about remote working opportunities in Auckland
Are you interested in making remote work part of your next career move? Younity’s Auckland team has employers that offer many flexible working arrangements for skilled IT professionals.