The pandemic has made many lines that existed between our work and our personal lives disappear. Before the pandemic, most of us lived dual lives – one personal and the other professional. We built our professional life to support our personal life, which includes our family and our friends. Our professional life was centered on the office building and personal life around our home. The pandemic has blurred these lines with work and personal life overlapping each other making it difficult to separate one from the other and making it hard to have a work-life balance in a traditional sense.
Due to the pandemic, people everywhere were forced to stay indoors. Through technology, we were able to maintain our livelihood and keep the economy running. Smartphones, laptops and video conferencing tools helped communication free flow not only between employees and organizations but between anyone and everyone who needed to interact.
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Although video conferencing allowed for free flow of communication, it also allowed for the complete removal of work-life balance. We welcomed everyone in our workplace straight to our living room. The pandemic hit us so suddenly that we did not have the time to even think about this invitation into our personal life. We all just had to go with the flow.
Before the pandemic, the main objection to remote work was that the staff would disengage and there would be less productivity. But this notion has been proven wrong as employees are even more productive working from home. Many employees have been able to put two hours extra since there is no travel time involved.
The feeling of being fortunate to still be working, the fear of being under surveillance from employers and the removal of work-life balance boundaries has led to people working harder. Those managing work and caring responsibilities are ones who are struggling the most. And those who are managing child care and elderly care at the same time are in the worst shape of all. All these things point towards a future where overwork is a norm and work-life balance is just an aspiration.
The social norms around taking a break are vanishing. Expectations from workers to be available 24/7 were there before the pandemic if left unchecked they will become the norm. It is important to establish social norms around taking short breaks throughout the workday. Otherwise workers will gradually lose these healthy habits unless companies create work cultures and clear policies that encourage staff to take breaks.
In this relatively new work from home reality, it is particularly challenging for people who like to maintain a work-life balance. It is almost impossible to do that now. Our personal and professional lives are colliding and there is no way to stop that. With the camera now peeping right in our comfort zone, the trend is to be more transparent.
In the end, it is important to acknowledge that the way people work has changed forever. People can hope that blurring of the lines between personal and professional lives will continue to bring them closer and they will be more accepting of each other.
- Workplace 3.0: Say Goodbye to The Lines Between “Work” and “Life”| Talent Culture | Vikas Dua| May 12, 2021
- Is A Blurred Work-Life Balance The New Normal? | Forbes | Adi Gaskell | May 11, 2020
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