City job – regional office: working from the farm
COVID-19 has been the catalyst for many to reconsider lifestyle choices and reflect on what is really important to them. As businesses have been forced to adapt and workplace flexibility has increased, so too has the tendency for many Australians to look to regional Australia.
In the period of 2011 to 2016, over 650,000 capital city residents in Australia moved out of the city and of these over 400,000 (63 percent) chose to move to a regional area (Regional Australia Institute, 2019).
The COVID-19 pandemic has thrown ‘normal’ life to the wind impacting all our lives. While many have experienced the anxiety and downside of lockdown in the city my experiences have been somewhat different.
This pandemic has fundamentally changed the way we work. To work for a corporate like KPMG from regional Australia was not something I had ever considered. But the necessity to work from home forced people’s thinking around remote working opening up real opportunities for more flexible way of working.
Returning last year from a career break in outback Australia to city life was a significant adjustment. So when the ‘work from home’ advice was announced in March this year, it was the perfect opportunity to return to my family property out near Warrnambool. I have been there ever since.
Prioritising regional Australia
In May of this year, the Regional Australia Institute launched the Regional Australia Council 2031 (RAC2031) with the primary goal of using the collective knowledge and influence of the Council to help transform regional Australia. The Council gives corporate Australia a vehicle to support the development, investment and prosperity of our regions in a collaborative way, to enhance the lives of Australians who choose to live in the regions.
Robert Poole, KPMG’s national partner for food and agribusiness and a foundation member of the RAC2031 believes, regional development is one of the most important issues facing Australia. “If we are careful in how we design the role of regions it will help both the people in cities and the regions prosper as well”.
The RAC2031 looks to focus on four key pillars; jobs, populations, liveability, and people and leadership.
Opportunities in regional Australia
Information from RAC2031 shows In May 2020 there were nearly 30,000 regional jobs advertised on the internet, with the jobs in most demand continuing to be well paid mid-to-high skilled professionals and trade jobs. The pattern of vacancies is similar across regional Australia in the need for skilled trades and professions. This means regions are increasingly competing with each other for the same kinds of people. Without access to talent regions cannot continue to grow.
My challenge to the corporate world is to unlock opportunities in regional Australia and allow employees the flexibility to choose where they live and how they want to work. This pandemic has proven, particularly in Victoria as we continue to work from home, that productivity is possible remotely. As businesses have been forced to evolve into the virtual world, technologies such as Microsoft Teams, Mural and Times Live Events have broken boundaries we had not previously attempted in our working environment.
No matter how the ‘return to normal’ may eventually look, for me this time has been incredible. The opportunity to work from regional Australia, ride my horse each morning before work and help out on the farm on the weekends has been a dream. The value of fresh air and the joy of animals is something you can easily forget in city life. This time has proved that working a corporate job from regional Australia is definitely possible.