Bans are lifting, guidelines changing, and people are starting to use a word we haven’t heard in over a year: “normal.” But what does normal really look like in a post-pandemic world? For many of us, the plans we had for our personal and professional lives altered drastically during this past year. Workplaces went remote, new careers were started, and families had to reorganize lives around a lot more together time.
These changes undoubtedly realigned values, particularly for those of us who were able to work from home. But with things shifting back in the opposite direction, what does that mean for our future work selves? While work-from-home-life has been productive for many, there are some aspects of it that have not been. If you, like the rest of us, are struggling to understand what you want to keep, throw away, or hit refresh on – we’ve got some ideas for regaining a little balance.
Don’t be afraid to mix things up
Although many people are eager to go back to the office, some people want to avoid it all together. Still, others want to find the sweet spot in between, working at the office some days while enjoying the freedom of picking up their work and taking it home for the rest of the week. According to numerous reports, different types of jobs now provide the opportunity to work remotely either full or part time. And for some of us, that potential can be a game changer!
If you’re in a position where your employer is offering you options, or if you’re in a position to determine policies, you’ll need to consider what location works with your life, your job, and your productivity. For instance, maybe you and your partner aren’t enjoying being crammed into that back bedroom that you’ve turned into an office. If that’s the case, maybe braving that commute into town is worth it. Maybe you have the best possible at home bunker, one that provides you with a quiet room where you can focus, or enjoy having your cat be your coworker, then staying home could be the best for you. The important thing to consider is what works best for you.
Enjoy work in new places
Another thing to consider if you decide to work remotely is where you want to work remotely from. While many people pick to live in places relatively close to their jobs, remote work offers the benefit of working from, well, anywhere you want.
For instance, maybe you’ve always wanted to spend a month “living” in France. If you’re able to get the approval of your boss and to be remote for an extended period – that dream could come true. You could rent a small chalet, walk by the Seine after work, and enjoy un café at that adorable patisserie down the block before you log in and check your email.
You could see about making a more permanent change. Many remote friendly workplaces not only allow but encourage their employees to live in places they enjoy. Whether that’s moving closer in town for the free rent or finding a more affordable suburb further from the heart of the city; the world is your oyster!
Embrace the face-to-face
At the end of the day, there’s something to still be said for going back into the office. Sure, your dog enjoys listening to you sing along to your tunes on Spotify, but he just isn’t good for the same water-cooler talk that you used to love. For some of us, there’s a lot of joy to be had in office life. The sense of community, the separation from loved ones (which we can all need from time to time), and the ability to get to know other employees is something that can be occasionally hard to replicate when you’re remote.
If you’re wanting to head back into the office, but are feeling uncertain, talk to your employer about options. Most employers are open to discussing precautions, new procedures, and other measures they’re taking to ensure employee health and safety. If you’ve got “Reopening anxiety” you’re not alone. I have felt entirely exposed doing things inside buildings or going someplace without a mask. The important thing is to be open, set boundaries, and try to work with your employer in an honest fashion.
Make Your Voice Heard
If you’re wanting to explore different options for your working life, we suggest discussing with your boss or reaching out to human resources to see what kind of opportunities are available. Many companies that went fully remote this past year are in the same place: trying to figure out next steps. As they’re figuring it out, you can provide your feedback and perspective, helping to ensure that you’re able to create a new situation. If those steps have the flexibility to create a schedule and a space that works best for you – advocate for it!
What are some of the changes you’ve seen at work in the past several months, and how are you coping with them? Let us know on our Facebook page!