How Work Life Is Better One Year After COVID-19 Lockdown

Posted on June 23, 2021 by BWBacon. Tagged: For Candidates, For Clients

While it feels like a distant memory, cautiously emerging from our homes last June here in Colorado was a triumph in itself. After weeks of uncertainty, parts of normal life finally became more accessible. Now a year later, we can celebrate how far we have come and how much has changed.

What’s the biggest thing that’s changed in your work life since the pandemic? Are you still 100% remote, the dredging city commute a distant memory, or did you shift careers entirely? 2020 was a pivotal moment in history, and it’s the BWBacon way to find the silver linings of that experience.

It’s Been Said, But Work Life Will Never Be The Same

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In many ways, working from home is a double-edged sword, with great advantages and potential fallouts. On one hand, many workers are thriving in remote work, touting higher levels of autonomy and work-life balance, while others are feeling like work hours are unending and constantly blended with home life.

Whether you’re enjoying remote and hybrid work models or yearning for pre-pandemic normalcy, it’s safe to say the face of work will never be the same as we continue to recover from the pandemic. The forced experiment of dispersed teams showed managers just how many jobs were able to be done at home. Leaders now have an important responsibility to be explicit and clear on expectations of availability, and what “business hours” actually mean to their organizations.

According to Slack, people are spending 10 extra hours online every week, making active working time jump by nearly 30%. While this appears to lead to higher productivity on paper, there is a danger of people feeling worn down. For this reason, this is an opportunity for organizations to take a hard look at their policies and their level of transparency. Are your intentions about hybrid work or retuning to the office clear for your employees? Is there an understanding of what a healthy work-life balance looks like and does your leadership lead by example?

Adjusting To Change Is An Ongoing Process

Work from home is not the only adjustment we’ve being asked to make permanent. Vox asked Kate Lister from Global Workplace Analytics about how shared spaces will change. She predicts a 180⁰ shift from 80% of office space being assigned to individuals, noting we will see more shared and collaborative spaces and group work configurations. This stems from the idea that we will all use the office more intentionally for working together and enjoying that time we spend face-to-face.

While we could talk about the pros and cons of these changes all day, we’re putting a positive spin and list all the ways work life is better one year after lockdown began:

  • This time allowed us to re-prioritize our goals and focus on what we most cherish.
  • The pandemic brought a renewed focus to self-care and mental health across industries.
  • We can all embrace change more openly and readily, making us more resilient.
  • Heightened our appreciation for life (Read this post about NYC and its 2021 tulips.)
  • Flex work and remote work continues to bring many better work-life balance.
  • Many employees report being happier and more productive while working remotely.
  • Companies are opening positions for workers nationwide, expanding their candidate pipelines.
  • Candidate pipelines are also more diverse with remote opportunities, opening doors for a range of people who may not live in a big tech hub city.
  • Less in person meetings increase the ease of scheduling due to use of video conferencing tools.
  • Fluidity and casualization of work life, meetings (raise your hand if you’ve taken a call from a park bench or from your car in the last year…)
  • Less time spent commuting to the office, and less commuting is better for the environment.
  • Breaking down of rigid ideas for what the “office” has to be, i.e. more companies are considering smaller satellite offices, hybrid work models, and decentralized locations.
  • Repurposing physical spaces for community events allows us to reconnect with people post-pandemic and create new networks for partnership and collaboration.
  • We have a renewed appreciation for time spent with friends or team members at the office.
  • Promoted more regular and open communication between managers and their team members
  • Acceleration of digital remote work tools and team tools that make working easier and more organized for everyone.
  • An increased value on intersectionality in leadership and meaningful change within organizational culture, hiring, and approach to inclusivity.
  • Greater emphasis on corporate responsibility for helping employees stay engaged and taken care of, physically and mentally.
  • WFH may bring about a fifth revolution of work, as it pushed companies to try new things and reorganize our priorities on home life, the definition of flexibility, and even cities themselves.
  • Allowed many companies time to rebrand, revamp, or take an unexpected approach to new services or products.
  • Broke us free from the 9-5 slog; again, realizing that some people work better at night or at 6AM, and how allowing that elasticity of work hours increased productivity and overall satisfaction for many people.
  • Employees have higher autonomy, managers trust in their teams to get work done without direct supervision.
  • As a society, we know we can learn new technologies that positively impact people (like the increase in telehealth appointments for example)
  • Many companies found out just how hard their teams were willing to work and do their best despite everything else going on
  • We’ve all placed a higher priority not just on family, but taking care of each other as a community.

There’s A Distinction Between Being Engaged Versus Being Productive

While we love to bring the positivity, increased productivity and longer work hours is not all sunshine and rainbows. Workers across all industries were working on average 48 minutes more per day after lockdown started, according to a study by Harvard Business School, and another paper from University of Chicago indicated that while workers upped their hours by 30%, there was not a drastic increase in productivity. We bring up these points to illustrate that burnout is valid, and leaders need to be aware of creeping into that territory.

In conclusion, it’s easy to find silver linings and ways in which work life is better one year after the pandemic began. The most important takeaways are that flexibility and balance are the overarching goals as work life continues to change for the better.

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Here at BWBacon Group, we know and live what you are experiencing as an employer or job seeker in Denver, Boulder, Dallas, San Francisco, New York City or any of the other cities we work in. We believe great recruiting starts and ends with understanding people.

If you have any questions about living, working or playing any of the areas we serve, please contact us. We are happy to help. Seize the day, every day, that’s what we say!