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Is Working From Home Providing The Work-Life Balance That We’ve Been Promised For So Long?

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Our office work culture has dramatically shifted in the last month. All over the world kitchen tables, spare rooms, and nooks have been transformed into working spaces. The people I’ve spoken to really enjoy the perks of working from home. That’s not to say that there aren’t difficulties, but there are a lot of benefits that go with the challenges. 

For most white-collar jobs, working from home has provided the work-life balance that we’ve been promised for so long. Once things return to normal and kids return to school, we shouldn’t rush back to the office if we don’t have to. 

Being at home has allowed people to actually focus on their tasks without being interrupted by quick questions or sidebar chats. People are able to plan their workday on their own schedule and maximize their productivity. Without a daily commute, people are finding more time in the day and are less burnt out. 

And let’s face it, the office was never a great place to work, it was just our only option. 

There are a lot of flaws with our office culture that we’ve just learned to put up with. The biggest negative to the office environment is that it kills creativity. In order for people to be creative, they need space to think. When your day is filled with back to back meetings, email interruptions, and chatty co-workers it can be hard to find some time to yourself. I’ve always tried to take short walks a few times a day so that I’m able to let ideas sink into my brain. That can be a no-no in office culture since it’s believed you can only be productive when you are sitting at your desk. 

Sitting in a chair for 8 hours regardless of workload is standard across all sorts of industries. This is an antiquated idea leftover from the industrial revolution to maximize efficiency in a factory. While there are jobs that require this schedule, a knowledge worker is not one of them. A good portion of our day is answering emails, editing documents, reviewing work, and reporting numbers. Ever since the smartphone became mainstream we’ve known that this work can be done anywhere in the world, and now we know it can be done on a large scale. Maybe your best meetings happen when you can do 10 pushups right before it starts. It could be that a quick afternoon nap enables you to focus through the afternoon. I do my best thinking while pacing, but it’s hard to concentrate when everyone is giving you sideways glances. 

Working at your own pace will allow you to work your best.

As many people are also finding out, working at your own pace requires discipline. Setting your own schedule means you have to understand your own work habits and work within them.  I can be my own worst enemy when it comes to distractions. I’ve had to re-learn how to extract the best work from myself by self-evaluating my work. 

Not only are people getting more done, but they are happier about it, and learning more about themselves so they can be more productive in the future. 

When the COVID-19 risk lowers enough for offices to re-open, I suggest managers take a long hard look at reverting back to 40 hours a week in a chair. We’ve put a lot of effort into developing new skills during the quarantine and we shouldn’t waste it. There is an opportunity sitting before us to radically change what work is, and how we do it. Let’s embrace the lessons we’ve learned along the way and come out of this pandemic stronger than ever.

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