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COVID has taught us a lot about work life balance. Some of it for the better.
Work life balance has long been a work world buzzword. The media portrays it as the gold standard lifestyle and people spend their lives defining that goal and then striving to reach it. Nowadays, it’s in most every job posting — and what’s behind every eye roll when that “sympathetic” employer asks you to drop everything, yet again, for a schedule change or stay late ‘just this one time’.
As the HR manager at our small agency, it’s something I remind my team of when we’re hiring or addressing performance issues. We only know a portion of what goes on in any employee’s life. The forty hours a week they work is only a percentage of their total lives.
Then came March 2020. Crisp-looking presenters on Zoom in front of their blurred-out home workspaces became the metaphor for losing that separation between our work and home selves. By now, we’ve all been through our own version of the garbage truck rumbling down the street and banging garbage pails while you’re on a client call. Or trying to explain to your dog that even if he hates the mailman, he can’t be barking while you’re on a call with your boss.
But, if there’s a “new normal” silver lining, it’s that our employers and colleagues can’t hide from a truth that they’ve really known all along — everybody is juggling a dozen things (professional and personal) at any given time in their lives. And never has it been more obvious than in our work-from-home lifestyle. Multi-tasking, especially for the parents (shout out to my March 2021 pandemic baby!) out there, is now a non-negotiable.
As we roll into 2022, it feels like “new normal” updates occur weekly. As we deal with yet another variant of COVID, many of us have adapted to a new definition of work-life balance and I find myself wondering if “old normal” is even in the cards again.
Like so many other companies, we here at Gunderson Direct are exploring a hybrid model. For the company, it’s strictly a physical thing — WFH vs WFO. But, for those of us with kids, it’s also a hybrid lifestyle.
It’s time to admit it outright — we can’t keep our family lives separate from our work lives any longer and we shouldn’t be expected to. Whether it’s because that WFH office space doubles as a playroom or is built into a closet (cloffice anyone?), or because the kids were exposed at school and need a COVID test.. and by the way, now the whole family needs to test… and quarantine…again.
Let’s recognize that we’re all doing the best we can with what we have, and sometimes what we have is a toddler bombing our Zoom meetings.
So, let’s hear it for blurring the lines — put your therapy appointment on your calendar, take a long lunch to be there for your nephew’s school play, share the link for your daughter’s girl scout cookies in as many Slack channels as you want. And when someone in your Zoom meeting switches off their camera because their kid is having a meltdown, borrow from one of our core values and Seek Good Karma by showing them some compassion.
As we move from the old “new normal” into the next “normal,” let’s all support one another. Take a step back and recognize that as long as work is getting done and deadlines are being met, then maybe our employee selves and our home selves can coexist in a better, healthier way than they did in the “old normal.”
Interested in working with Jaki and the rest of our team? Then drop us a line.
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