REMOTE WORK-LIFE BALANCE & THE EFFECTS ON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS – The Opinion Piece

Work-Life Balance, what is it? Well the idea of Work-Life Balance is the basic understanding for the way you juggle separate aspects of life and though commonly referred to and used to describe the relationship between working and personal life, can be applied in other areas such as daily tasks and relaxing. In the case of this research project however, Work-Life Balance is the harmony between University work and personal life. With the concept of Work-Life Balance there, however, is working out whether or not you have a good one. Well, what is a good balance? Realistically that answer will be different and of large variety depending on the person who answers. There is this generic idea that “a good work-life balance means you have harmony between the different aspects of your life.” Healthdirect.gov.au. (2019). What does that look like for you? For most students and youth a good Work-Life Balance is having both a productive work life in terms of schooling but with a healthy balance of personal aspects which can range from a multitude of things, such as spending time with family, exercising, and employment as collected from my research. 

This research project “REMOTE WORK-LIFE BALANCE & THE EFFECTS ON UNIVERSITY STUDENTS” was to explore the effects on students’ balances after the impacts of Covid-19, a global pandemic, complete remote learning, and to ask an overall question of whether or not this change has had a positive or negative impact. You can read my Pitch for this project here on my blog. In this I go into what the project will be about and my ideas, basic research and you can see the beginning stages of data collecting through embedded twitter polls. 

To really collect data for my project I curated a survey for my fellow BCM212 students to take, if they wished, and answer some of my questions. I shared this on my Twitter with the hashtag #BCM212 a few times over the course of some weeks, as well as responding to other students undertaking this class with a link. The survey initially opens with a consent form to read, as well a place to leave an anonymous username as everything was indeed anonymous. I asked a range of things in the quick ten minutes it takes to participate, from multiple choice to unrequired long answer questions to gauge a better insight. Some of the things asked were: do you know what Work-Life Balance is? Did you have a Work-Life Balance in the past eg. highschool? Do you think for yourself personally that online learning has impacted your Work-Life Balance? For the longer questions I asked students, if they were comfortable, to describe how remote delivery has impacted their Work-Life Balance as well as if they found it to be beneficial. 

I originally was inspired to focus on this topic by the question if online learning had been overwhelming or not for anyone else, because for myself it kind of had been. I had this set in mind idea that the data would point that way and overall negative after remembering the initial sadness that students had when the change happened. However, after inspecting the data collected, I was proved completely wrong. 

Though 62.5% of BCM students had indeed found online learning to be overwhelming at times, a good 75% of them found that it had had a positive affect on their Work-Life Balance, as well as 75% noticing a positive impact on their work life performance. When asked the same question however about their personal life only 50% had found it to be a more positive impact than face-to-face, which isn’t exactly a negative at all really when you think of that being a half of students. 

In response to the long answer questions, they too were overwhelmingly positive. A participant found online learning to have benefited the way they balance personal and University life. “Yes as the online method is more self-driven and most lessons are recorded so you are able to watch them whenever you want. Additionally, due to the fact they are online, you are able to attend a class wherever you want! This includes at home, at the beach, at a park, at the – your friends houses, at the library – absolutely anywhere!”

Another student said “yes, it is a lot more convenient to have online classes for example I am now able to work before having uni online which allows me to be flexible with my work and uni life balance.”

“I can do uni anywhere so it gives me more freedom to catch up with friends and do uni rather than dedicating a whole day to going to uni and doing uni work.”

“Yes it means I don’t have to travel. Makes working easier etc less stress.”

Though the responses were heavily leaning towards positive, there are still those who have found the experience to be more of a struggle or not positive at all. Here are some of their responses to the same question. 

“In first year, I struggled with finding a balance between leisure and online uni because I always had so much spare time and was only working a few hours a week. It made it hard to stay motivated. This year I have improved in finding a balance as I have been able to adjust to what online uni is like and I have been able to figure out what methods work best for me.”

“No, it’s harder to balance as classes are not in person and there isn’t as much structure.”

“No, I become more anti-social and stressed. Constantly trying to catch up with lecture recordings, participation activities etc.”

I also provided a space in the survey to leave an example of how remote learning has impacted their Work-Life Balance if they wished too. Here are some of the responses that were shared. 

“I’ve been given more time to do my job and more flexibility. More responsibility.”

“I am able to go to work on a wednesday, and attend class immediately after I finish. I would not have been able to do this last year, and would have either been rushing for time, or had to pick one or the either to attend, not both.”

“I feel that online learning has allowed me to find that balance between work and life as I feel that I have more time to do things for myself and spend time with my family. With my work life I was also able to work before uni as opposed to on campus. I had to take full days off as it would’ve not been worth it to work such short hours, as I had to consider long travel times to campus.”

“I am able to attend more shifts as I can just watch recorded tuts/lectures. I can also still see my friends and just do uni at their place or when they are at mine etc. no wasting time by travelling anywhere.” 

As it is apparent by the responses and numbers from my survey, it is evident that more students than not are having a positive experience with remote delivery and are finding more of a balance and dare I say themselves without the added aspects of travel and overpacked full campus days. Even some students who are finding it more of a struggle left comments on how the lack of travel time has been such a benefit even if they are struggling to find an overall balance between their work and life areas. 

In fact, after going through the data for a while, writing up a report and engaging with readings and other BCM students it swayed me. I was really focused on how overwhelmed I could be with online learning and the structure of some classes in first year. However, I have noticed such a shift within my own Work-Life balance this semester, as well as seeing the perspective of other students from their responses. I personally have managed my classes a lot better this time, found my groove within it and it has not impacted my personal life or friendships at all like on campus learning used too. This semester alone I have done more work and spent more time with my friends, even spending a few days away at times than what I managed to do in first year. 

However, this leads into questioning because of its largely positive affect on students if University should stay online or even have the ability to choose what way you want it to be taught for yourself.  I think this has to be looked at in the sense of how modern students learn today for possible restructuring to fit the times of a technologic and fast paced world. 

The pool of students that participated in this research was small in comparison to the whole of University as it is just one class, but that doesn’t mean this degree has been the only one to be impacted in such a way. However, it is important to note that BCM is a media degree and it should be expected that students within that could have had a better time adjusting to those who are in degrees such as law. I think this within itself is an important question though, to really look at how degrees are taught to students and what way is beneficial to that degree rather than expecting each and each student to be the same. 

  • Illustrations/Images created by myself – Taylor Housman

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