We’re at week 26: mid-way through the year and always a good time to review and adjust plans. In work-life balance terms it’s been an unprecedented year. After decades of workers asking for remote working; employers were finally forced to accede since lockdown meant they had few other options.
At the same time the risks of #AlwaysOn working increased as home and work lives meshed. Meshing also added to the mental load for many women when invisible caring responsibilities clashed with overt workplace demands.
Going forward, there seems to be a majority consensus that things will not be the same. The power to determine how different they become lies with all of us. But as they say “If you don’t know where you’re going you’re likely to end up somewhere else”.
This week let’s take the opportunity to pause, review and decide where we’re going with our work-life balance by answering three questions:
Where have your work-life balance challenges increased?
For example, the media has been reporting that pressures on women have escalated as social expectations collided with workplace reality. The lack of access to childcare has resulted in an increase in guilt for many working mothers who’ve found it challenging to carry out either their parenting or workplace role satisfactorily.
Outdated gender stereotypes have apparently resurfaced in lockdown; with many men assuming their job takes priority over that of their wives. Coupled with a lack of clear performance goals this has resulted in large numbers of women struggling to find time for both work and family. Much of the guidance around how to be an efficient remote worker has been gender blind, failing to acknowledge that women shoulder much of the burden of unpaid (and generally invisible) care and household tasks.
On the work front many of us have struggled to become proficient in the technologies that facilitate remote working; and have ended up exhausted after endless video meetings (which typically require a deeper level of concentration than live interactions). And the risks of #AlwaysOn working have been exacerbated.
Where has your work-life balance improved?
Conversely many of us have also seen benefits to the new ways of working. It could be the lack of commute (which eats into our time and often adds to our stress levels). Or the lack of distraction from co-workers. Perhaps you’ve learnt to schedule your time more effectively, or found joy in being able to spend more time with your partner and children.
What small adjustments can you make going forward to regain your balance?
The past few months have been an opportunity for many of us to reconsider what’s important; and to reflect on the adjustments we can make to find better work-life balance.
What has lockdown taught you about your own preferences, what’s important for you and what needs to change now to rebalance as we embrace the ‘new normal’?
What small steps can you take this week to move forward into a balanced new future?