Most of us struggled with the work-life balance pre-covid, but never really understood how beneficial working from home could be until the world decided to shut down and businesses had to allow people to work from home or go under. What did we learn? As bad as covid was, some people can really thrive working from home and businesses benefit. Employees are happier and are often more productive.
When I'm in the office, I have people stopping by my desk or asking me to stop by theirs to field questions that might be just as easily answered in an email. Fewer interruptions allow me to concentrate more fully, making fewer mistakes that have to be fixed later. The interruptions can also make me weary and more tired, as can the drive to work.
Speaking of driving to work, other benefits include things like using less gas, less wear and tear on vehicles, being able to care for elderly parents (or pets), taking care of household chores (laundry), and for some, educating our children. Many of these things can save us money - especially with the way inflation is right now. Who doesn't want to be using less gas when the price is going up so much?
Jeffrey Walter and I have discussed this more than a few times over the last two years. For two years, the only times he went into the office were to get his computer repaired (it had to be reloaded twice) and he managed to be even more productive than when he was in the office. He also worked longer hours because he didn't have to plan his drive to and from work around traffic patterns (not to mention allowing his computer to process a huge file without babysitting it). And when his workday was over, he could take care of things around the house like mowing the grass or working on home improvement projects prior to dinner.
Of course, there are people who thrive in an office environment and there are times when some things are best covered in person. Yes, you can use Zoom, Teams, Skype or some other virtual meeting software, but face-to-face is more reliable and getting out of the house isn't so bad either. Don't get me wrong, though, we don't all need to be in the office all day, every day.
So, now that most of the world has stopped telling people they HAVE to work from home, why don't we come up with a new work-life balance? One where people spend a few days working from home and a few days working in the office, if that's what works best for them. We can coordinate our schedules so we're in the office when others need to meet or have a set day or two each week when others will know we are in the office. That's how I've been working for a little more than a year and it's working great.
How about you? Are you back in the office full time or have you found your new work-life balance? How is your life different? What has worked for you?
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A few pictures of what my work-life balance allows - gardening, preserving and purging: