Sharmaine Gernhoefer has noticed a few advantages to working from home, one of which is the absence of distractions of a normal office environment.

People walking in and out, phone conversations taking place at the next table and staff members talking to each other were all part of normal life for the IMPACT Community Services’ family mental health support worker. But not these days.

As Sharmaine gets used to a new normal, she said the other benefit she had identified was the extra time in the morning normally spent getting ready and driving to work.

“Now I'm able to enjoy my coffee in the morning without rushing off to work,” Sharmaine said. “It makes for a better start to the day.”

There were a few cons though, one of which is not being able to tell her pet dog, a foxie-daschund cross called Chocolate, that she has important work to do and can't play right now.

With children, at least you can try to impress upon them that this is not play-time, but seemingly not a pooch.

And the absence of bricks and mortar to meet people in means she has to step up her communications game.

“Moving from face-to-face to contact to over the phone forces us to polish our phone manner. With new clients it's more difficult but with established clients you already have that strong rapport,” Sharmaine said.

Sharmaine's partner works in Newcastle and had to get an exemption for the border. He often encounters slowed traffic at the checkpoints.

But Sharmaine doesn't have that problem, only having to move from one room to the other.

“I get to walk around more at work ... by the end of the day at home I'm ready for a walk.”

IMPACT’s Managing Director Tanya O’Shea has praised the efforts of the large number of staff working from home.

Ms O’Shea said it was important for all staff, particularly those working from home, to adopt strategies that work for them to separate work from other parts of their life and look after their wellbeing.

This is part of our series on IMPACT staff and how they’re adapting to the changing times brought on by COVID-19. Our inspiring staff remain as committed as ever to the delivery of vital services and programs that enable people in the Bundaberg region to Live, Grow and Prosper.