In breathless anticipation of freedom after Boris’ roadmap announcement, an explosion of memes summed up the mood in many households – but let’s stop for a moment and think: what will happen now? What has the pandemic done to the world of work and what can we expect as things slowly get back to normal? (And most importantly, who is getting the first round in on the return to Friday post-work drinks?)
Work/Life balance - won or lost?
Pre-Covid, we talked wistfully about achieving the ideal work/life balance. Over the last year though, we’ve been doing it all – the boundaries between work and life have become indistinguishable, existing within the same four walls and continuing 24/7.
For some, that’s been a win – being able to work flexibly to fit in with family time and home commitments. Those who made banana bread, nurtured sourdough, or stopped for PE with Joe will have found it far easier to have been more present in family life than ever before.
Yet, for many, it has felt less like working from home than living at work. They can’t wait to swap the living room ironing board for a real desk back at the office and long for a bit of ‘me time’ on the daily commutes. But is a return to the office a reality?
Communication may never be the same
When was the last time you shook hands with a client or customer? Small things like this have been missing for over a year – and arguably may never return – yet they add up to alter the landscape of work dramatically. What’s interesting is how transformative this year has been for communication as a whole – how every single one of us, young or old, has become accustomed to working, learning or simply keeping in touch in a completely new way.
Perhaps you’ve quickly realised you’re no longer going to be able to wear pyjamas through the afternoon, thanks to seated Zoom meetings. Or you’re feeling the exhaustion of having to look, listen and talk to others without the distraction and companionship of simply “being” with friends and family.
Social distancing measures mean the physical connections between us are gone – from big bear hugs on bad days, to a simple shoulder squeeze of encouragement from a colleague. It can leave us feeling a bit lost – after all, verbal communication is just a part of how we interact as a species.
Beating those back-to-work blues
The next few months are likely to be a period of real adjustment as we creep back towards “normality” with no real view of what that may be. But remember – any opportunity for change is a chance for better habits to be made
So dig out your dancing shoes and brush off your briefcase and be ready to embrace the best of both worlds – but make sure you pace yourself on that first night out, otherwise you might wake up to your friend sending you a video like this: