This semester I undertook a class as part of my degree, Bachelor of Communication And Media, called ‘Understanding Research Practice’. A part of this subject was to conduct a research report over the course of the semester, including a research report, annotated bibliography, opinion piece and a reflection. Some of the work like my Pitch and Opinion Piece you can also find here on my blog. My topic, which had to relate to the students of BCM212 in some way or another, was Remote Work-Life Balance And The Effects On University Students. If you are unsure on what Work-Life Balance is I suggest this quick read of my Pitch.
At the start of this semester I was really unsure of what direction to go in, in fact I was behind in figuring out a topic on my own. This is where my classes really helped, with open discussions and live tweeting of ideas I was able to land on the idea of Work-Life Balance from my own feelings of finding things overwhelming, as well as from the help of my Tutor. However, my initial Pitch provides a few unethical aspects that once noticed lead me into a completely different direction. Instead of focusing on the feelings of students I reworked my project to highlight the impacts, such as traveling and time management.
This then led me into identifying risk factors that this research project might encounter, and discovering my own. For example, procrastination I knew was something possible for me and I was able to manage this with structuring a timetable.
I was originally stuck on if I wanted to interview students or put out a survey, but over time I curated a survey with some long answer responses to gain depth and insight as my research method. I shared it via my Twitter a few times over some weeks, but that wasn’t really gaining participants even with the #BCM212 hashtag. I found that the more I participated in other surveys and sharing my own in the replies asking if they wished to participate back was the real key to getting traction.
My opinion piece was not really a struggle to write, as after all the data and readings I found myself to be incredibly passionate about the outcome and even my own thoughts on the topic. In fact, besides this reflection I believe that was the easiest part of this whole project. My research report was incredibly overwhelming to write up though, just because of the sheer amount of data I had and the time I really put into structuring it as it is not really a format I am familiar with. That being said, by the time I had completed that element I was proud of it.
I have learnt many different things from this subject, like my own limits and working with them to create a finished product. I have learnt how to be more confident in engaging with students because I had to, and am really benefiting from that in other aspects of my University life. I have learnt how to research and collect data in an ethical way, even if I had a few setbacks before achieving that. In all, I am really thankful for the lessons learnt and the help received over the course of this project.
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
How do you balance your student life to your personal one? Do you have a balance at all?
I am interested in the way work-life balance has played a part in the global pandemic for student’s, shifting from campus based learning to constant engagement from the space of our home’s. How has that affected students ability to switch off and relax in their own space? Has it become overwhelming and difficult or has it been beneficial to further develop routine and organisation?
WHAT IS WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
Firstly, it’s important to know what work-life balance is referring to and how that corresponds to University student’s in the climate of a pandemic and remote learning.
My topic focuses on the environment that is within the Covid-19 pandemic, which forced everyone, not just student’s, inside for everything for over a year. Usually student’s would travel to campuses to engage with work, however this all shifted to remote delivery, forcing them to work within their personal space. My topic is to explore where the lines get blurry, the harmony of the aspects and drawing to question if this has been beneficial to student’s or not.
This topic was originally centred around the organisational impacts of Covid-19, which I instantly took to twitter to create poll’s for #bcm212 University student’s.
Through curating twitter polls and in class engagement I refined my idea further to if students were finding remote delivery overwhelming and what was helping them stay organised while working from their personal space. My twitter audience showed that there was in fact an interest in this, and not just that but my original poll resulted in a 50-50 result. This ultimately made me confirm my idea from wanting to dive deeper into this topic and the way student’s have been handling their work from home.
An article onan investigation into the side effects of working from home on work-life balance (Palumbo, R. 2020) investigates the ability of remote workers to manage the work-life integration brought on by disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic. It identifies the potential issues that may occur when working from home as “the juxtaposition of private life and work-related duties is thought to generate stress and time allocation challenges.” This article does an intense dive into work-life balance and after a series of data collection it was found that remote working had side effects on work-life balance, which openly supports my topic. “The overlapping between work commitments and private affairs triggered by working at home involves drawbacks on the employees’ ability to manage the boundaries between work and life.”
Gregory R. Berry and Heidi Hughes explore work-life balance with constant switched on engagement from the student’s perspective in their article. They found that the barriers between leisure time and that of work/school commitments that were once distinctly defined are no longer. “Mobile communication technology which removes both the temporal and the physical boundary.” This is relevant to my topic because it highlights how being tuned into work can impact our personal life, especially when given the context of Covid-19.
Article’s have largely appeared ever since the pandemic lockdown that explored the health effects working from home. Some of the negative effects found ina rapid review of mental and physical health effects of working at home are “greater emotional exhaustion and cognitive stress.” On the other hand it was also found to “a positive effect on well-being…with less negative effect on well-being…” Similarly, on a more physical side Healthline, medically reviewed by Debra Sullivan, listed some effects that working from home and specifically from bed can have. “When we use our bed for other activities…we create an association with wakefulness.” Other effects include posture, hygiene, and energy. These articles are helpful for my topic in discussing both the negative and positive impacts that working from home may have for student’s.
I believe my topic is important to understand in a 2021 climate and to breach away from the outdated understanding of work equating to a seperate place and time when in truth that no longer exists. I am excited to conduct research into this topic in relevance to today’s student’s and to create insight on how those who are working remotely are handling the environment thrown at them.
Palumbo, R. (2020). Let me go to the office! An investigation into the side effects of working from home on work-life balance. Department of Management and Law, University of Rome Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy. P 3-14
Gregory R. Berry & Heidi Hughes (2020) Integrating Work–Life Balance with 24/7 Information and Communication Technologies: The Experience of Adult Students With Online Learning, American Journal of Distance Education. P 3
Oakman, J., Kinsman, N., Stuckey, R., Graham, M. and Weale, V. (2020). A rapid review of mental and physical health effects of working at home: how do we optimise health? BMC Public Health, 20(1). P 7
Hi, yes, hello, this post is a little late but that’s okay we’re here now! University has this thing of starting right on my birthday, which isn’t that big of deal until you realise that I have never ever had a birthday where my life didn’t get turned on it’s head. I genuinly don’t think I can remember a birthday where I didn’t cry about something and retreat into my head for the next two weeks, falling down a whole of internal suffering for the following days. Is that a little too much to be putting here, in the morning, for my welcome back post? Maybe, but it’s the exact reason why I’ve had this post planned out for a week and kept putting it off. We’re good now though, until next year rolls around, but hey, stay with me and I can garentee you that this tradition will remian intact.
I guess we can follow that up with hi, my names Taylor lani and I just turned ninteen last week. I’m a second year student at UOW now in 2021, currently studying a Bachelor of Communication and Media. Though please don’t ask what I’m majoring in for no, I can’t keep my mind straight enough to really pick one and honestly, vibing with I might change again, but that’s okay! It’s all apart of my journey.
Speaking of journey’s, it takes a mighty one to get to Wollongong and campus from where I am living these days. I used to live on campus last year, and it was fine while it lasted, but during the peak of 2020 Covid I moved back home with my dad. Home for me is in a small coastal town within Jervis Bay. I moved around a lot as a kid but pretty much all little towns and suburbs were on this part of the coast. It’s familiar, and it was very calming to return to and spend the bulk of 2020 studying online.
It’s funny how I started this post off about my birthday and am about to lead into that day again, however this one was from when I was just starting year 7. I had started picking up this hobby of reading in around year 5 and it was my favourite thing! You would never see me without a book, infact teachers back then had to take them off me so I would actually do the class work. I remeber being so inspired by my favourite authors, looking into who they were and everything. The common link? All of them went to University, for different things that all fall within the relm of writting and communication. So what did I do? Well, it was birthday, and it had been an equally terrible day as the last besides the fact I was gifted more books, and that night I sat on the floor of the living room and told my mum, “I want to go to University.”
That had been my life goal all throughout high school. I knew what I wanted and I was going to make it work.
And it did! I got here and while I had spent all those years imagining what my life would be like to finally have achieved something like this, none of it came close to the real thing at all. I think that’s a good thing though, how boring would first year have been if it was right?