Work-Life Balance Post COVID
By Shontel Zamora
The topic of maintaining a good work-life balance has been a point of interest for decades, even before the pandemic. The topic was quite popular early in our COVID experience as the world went virtual, and millions who had never telecommuted before found themselves in a new environment.
As great as telecommuting was, many employees had their work life colliding with their home life. Employees’ homes that were once a place of retreat became their new office. While some folks thrived in the newfound freedom, others worked more hours at home than they did previously in the office. Boundaries between work and home life became blurred for many of us. Colleagues began to resent their homes, because every time they walked past the make-shift workstation on the dining room table they were only reminded of their work stress.
Over the course of the past two years, many people had to readjust and re-learn new ways to separate their work and home life. However, we now once again find ourselves at another transition. Many agencies and organizations are bringing folks back in-person to the office, even if just on a hybrid schedule. This has led to a number of employees experiencing work-life balance issues once again. The return-to-work transition has left some employees struggling to cope with the physical proximity to others, while others are left in a fog of productive and non-productive days after bouncing between the office and home during hybrid schedules. Folks are requiring our attention and effort at a moment’s notice when in the office, but when telecommuting home life is constantly calling. Our balance has been compromised again, and many of us have not been able to manage our time, our sleep, even our eating habits.
So, what can we do?
One of the best pieces of advice i received, and one that helped me personally, was to create and start a new routine – mark your calendar if need be. We must mentally prepare ourselves for where each day will take us, whether that is to the office, or the at-home workstation. Creating a new routine can help do that. Other suggestions include learning when to say ‘no’ when you do not have the capacity to take on additional work.
Also, don’t be afraid to ask for help at work or at home – sometimes a little bit of flexibility, delegation, and grace can go a long way. If the return-to-work transition has left you feeling a bit overwhelmed, hopefully some of these items can help build your confidence and stigma back up to where we all strive to be.
Shontel Zamora is a budget analyst for the California State University at San Bernardino, and a member of the IPMI Education Development Committee. She can be reached at SZamora@csusb.edu