The notion of work-life balance took on a whole new meaning a year ago when office dwellers were forced to set up shop in their homes. According to Statistics Canada, 32% of Canadian employees worked most of their hours from home in 2021, compared with 4% in 2016. That is a huge jump!
For many, this was a welcome change and one that many have been asking for years. For others, this shift has turned their life upside down, blurring the lines between home and work.
One thing we have learned is that no two situations are the same. Some people have children at home tugging on their sleeves for snacks, some have dedicated office spaces, while some occupy studio apartments where being ‘done for the day’ is signaled only by the closing of a laptop. The big questions are: Are we used to it now? Is this new normal here to stay?
We got what we wanted! Sort of?
Before the pandemic, 80% of the workforce said they would like to work from home for at least part of the week. Time and money spent commuting is a big driver to prefer working from home. Without a 2-3 hour commute in your day, this leaves more time and money to spend on things you enjoy. Reminding folks to be grateful for this aspect of the workday is important and will continue to foster a positive balance while we navigate this new work culture.
But how do we know that they are working?
A concern for big business leaders would be a risk of reduced productivity when working from home. But does lack of visibility truly mean lack or production? “Of all new teleworkers, 90% reported being at least as productive, i.e., accomplishing at least as much work per hour, at home as they were previously at their usual place of work” (Statistics Canada). In a previous blog we provided tips for having a “productive day at the office.” With the right space and mentality most folks don’t seem to be struggling to get work completed.
So, what happens when we are done with COVID?
This has been the million-dollar question for many of the office workers we have been connecting with. Many have gotten used to the new routine of working from home, the lunch time workouts (or naps) and the extra savings. The office atmosphere and nature of the work will likely be big deciding factors when deciding whether to return to the office. Work lunches, water cooler talk, white board sessions are all great ways to spark creativity and build a strong workplace culture. Overall, folks seem to be a bit torn. “80% of new teleworkers indicated that they would like to work at least half of their hours from home once the pandemic is over” (Statistics Canada).
Regardless of how things shake out post-pandemic, it is unlikely things will be back to the way they were in January 2020. Continue to build support and show your gratitude either in person or with a few extra minutes during your weekly Zoom call.