While at school, I often thought about what my adult work life would be like. I had it all figured out (of course, you know everything as a teen). I imagined myself waking up, getting all dressed up in my pencil skirt, blazer, and heels, and off to my office, which would have the best interior and decor, and before I start my day, I would go make a fantastic cappuccino at the fancy coffee machine. I was going to be a project manager, I had no idea what that involved, but it sounded pretty cool. I love working with people, and I would be the one making a difference in the company or how the work is done because I could manage and make decisions.
Then, you leave school to discover that your parents were right all along (shocker!), and working for a corporate company is not as glamorous as it seems. Waking up early, having to get dressed up every day, sitting in traffic, being tied to your desk 9-5, and not having much of a say in how the company runs or the work you do now become the frustrations in your life.
The pace of life has dramatically increased, probably as a result of technology, and especially social media. We cannot shut off because we are constantly bombarded with content from our phones, tv, laptops, radios, etc. Work-life is no different, from emails, WhatsApp, and Slack to LinkedIn, Facebook, and Instagram (because those are all part of many businesses now). This we cannot change, so companies need to change. The corporate mindset of everyone in the office at all times holds no merit when most jobs and many tasks can be done remotely.
This pandemic taught us how much we could do and even more productive we could be working remotely. It opened up opportunities to work globally, for companies to find the best employees in the world because they were no longer limited to one area. But now, as this virus fades into an awful distant memory, we see many companies returning to their old ways.
We are all individuals, yet companies try to group their employees into a one-size-fits-all model, but everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Some may thrive in an office environment, they love the routine, while others may smash out 3 hours of work at 5 am when the ideas come flowing in. Companies do themselves an injustice when they try to fit their employees into a single mold, they hinder true potential and productivity.
The future of work is to work from anywhere, anytime. It gives you the freedom to work when you are the most productive and what is best suited for your lifestyle. Is there really anything so bad about that? Do managers and bosses need to see people right in front of them working? Let the people choose!
Allow employees to set their schedules, empower them to make their own decisions, and allow them to run with it, even if it means mistakes, we can learn from them and grow together.
The one thing I would say I really miss about working in an office is the in-person connection you make with your colleagues. Yes, we have Zoom, but just having an office chat, asking a quick question, or bouncing ideas off of one another in-person is just more natural. It’s like having a long-distance relationship, not easy and sometimes more work.
For the past year and a half, I have been working remotely, and this has not affected the quality of my work, in fact, it has brought up the importance of work-life balance. So yes, getting out of bed, putting on a tracksuit and slippers, and walking to your study to start working is quite glorious. Being able to hang the washing or throw the ball for my dog while listening in on a call is a definite pro, but if I am honest, I have struggled to find the balance. You can get very caught up with having your work available 24/7 that some days may go by, and you don’t leave your desk, even working into the evening, cutting into family time and other responsibilities. Work-life balance is something I feel you need to train yourself to implement.
Remember, the world will not burn if you shut off your computer and don’t reply to a late email that came in (unless it will, then you need to take that up with management).