People’s opinions about what “work-life balance” actually means run the gambit.
Although, some would argue that the meaning itself implies a relationship (“work” having a more negative or chore-like connotation, whereas “life” is positive), is it that simple?
We live in, a world built on a foundation of productivity, where it is all too easy for us to define our worth by the volume of work we are able to accomplish in any given day. But, we would argue that the value we assign to our lives and our mastery of work-life balance, should come down to how well we’re able to prioritize the aspects of our lives that we enjoy most, whether they’re professional or personal.
The global pandemic has changed the way we work, blurring what was already a divide between life and work while raising questions around the long-term impacts on our mental wellness. But, we’re now hearing that upwards of 86% of remote workers in the US are actually satisfied with current arrangements; 47% are even “very satisfied,” even if that means “having to work from their bedrooms or closets.”
For the first time in a long time, Americans have control over their day-to-day, including the ability to prioritize the aspects, they enjoy and to be mentally present during the moments of their life that matter the most. So, why did it take a global pandemic for us to realize this shift?
Up until just a few years back, our road to work-life balance left little room for unforeseen or unique life circumstances. “Work” was understood to be the traditional 9-5 corporate desk job, set in a shared physical office space. “Life” could have referred to an evening at home with the family, or a night out for drinks with friends.
At some point over the past 10 years—with the advent of the internet and the culture of connectivity—productivity emerged as a trend. It became a self-defining characteristic among working professionals, eventually progressing into an obsession with optimizing all aspects of life, and a firm commitment to the “side hustle” culture.
Then we had the explosion of various productivity techniques like “inbox zero,” and single-tasking, as well as software programs and apps, which claimed to help us complete our tasks faster, just in time for us to cram more work—at the expense of life—into our days. What resulted? Burnout.
That is the reality for many of us who may already be overwhelmed business owners or gig workers that with the pandemic, 59% of millennials have been inspired to find side hustles until this situation is “over.” “You get a glimpse into just how devastating mass burnout could be for the American economy and workforce.”
Remote workers today have more software tools than ever before, but they are also working longer hours without seeing the fruits of their productivity.
The feeling of productivity is an elusive one. But to have any hope of catching it, we need to eliminate the noise, distractions, and literal paperwork that’s slowing us down and preventing us from being even more successful in our lives (not just our business.)
Time To Delegate
Working this long remotely during the pandemic has proven how productive and effective employees and owners can be without counting the number of hours spent at the office, rather by the quality of our work and the lives we are now living.
“Through delegation, we can minimize the noise that’s at the heart of so many employees’ burnout. Fire-and-forget is about delegation in the truest sense; even the back-of-the-mind tasks that can consume valuable energy are offloaded. In exchange, we are given the ability to focus wholeheartedly on the things that are most important to us, personally, as well as professionally.” Collins (2020)
Although our situation with COVID-19 is very unfortunate, the way we have had to adapt to working remotely will impact us positively on the long run. We have been able to see into our coworkers lives with our constant videoconferencing calls and have been able to grasp more of a human touch to our daily lives, opposed to not seeing or caring about what is happening in our lives at home. Be that as it may, and more significantly, we will continue to have discussions over productivity, and what a solid work-life balance could look like in our near future.
Collins, K., (2020), ‘How the pandemic reset workers’ concept of work-life balance’, Fast Company