Oh wait, is that really how much time has passed since our transition into the new normal? Days seem to be flowing into each other. Is it Monday or Friday? Thanks, technology, for keeping it real… like knowing what day it is!
This whole COVID-19 thing has really thrown us (actually several) curveballs of note. Take WFH for instance. The reality was quite different from the dream. Generally speaking, the biggest obstacle was to get yourself into a disciplined routine working away from the office.
And then lockdown for COVID-19 happened, and that is really where the wheels came off this dream-bus situation of WFH. Let me explain:
1. You and your family have to stay at home the whole time
Well, to be honest, that didn’t quite factor into my DREAM. They all still have to carry on with their normal routines so that I have time to do my work from home, and I have the extra time, not lost to commuting, going to yoga, going running, having my nails done, whatever…
2. You and the family are cooped-up together, with no support structures
With support structures, I refer to the cleaning service, the teachers, the extracurricular activities for the children and friends and family. All of these are now ‘forbidden’, so you become the support structure… suddenly you are employee, partner, and parent, and you are also a teacher, personal trainer, housekeeper, chef, and part-time gardener.
3. Time becomes very blurred, but with some good results
By now, on day 84 we should be into the routine of WFH, it is also very possible that your working hours have become quite blurred. Slowly, but surely if you don’t nip it in the bud, the “work-life” creeps into the “home life”. It is not hard to see this happening if you are working in the home space. Here is where all the experts have some very valid suggestions about making sure you separate work life from home life.
4. You aren’t allowed to go anywhere, with the exception of essential services
Under normal circumstances, this isn’t an issue. If you felt that you wanted to go and work from a coffee shop for the morning, then off you went – laptop under the arm, to your closest/favorite coffee shop. Not anymore, my friend. Coffee shops are closed for sit-in until further notice from the government. You can’t even have an office meeting in person at the coffee shop.
5. You realize how grateful you should be
Maybe people still have jobs, but they aren’t able to WFH like us here at SYSPRO. Many companies can’t even afford to pay these employees during this time. Others have lost their jobs and have no idea what they are going to do next.
6. You are working way more from home than you did at the office
I think this one surprised most – employees and employers alike. The level of productivity that has been the result of working in lockdown was an eye-opener for most parties. Some realized that they can work unsupervised and do a good job of it too. Almost like being at the office was a distraction to the work.
7. You suddenly find yourself doing activities you normally wouldn’t do
I’m not much of an exerciser I can hear you say until the government says that we aren’t allowed to exercise outside. Almost everyone was upset. Then they allocate a short period for exercising to eliminate the number of people exercising – well that was a bit of a win/fail situation depending on which viewpoint you are considering.
Perhaps I am the only one that thought: Well, seeing that I am not commuting to work anymore, and not teaching yoga classes, and essentially at home, I will have the much-needed time to learn a new skill. WRONG! By the end of the workday, when the home “WORK” starts I am so tired of being in front of a screen, that the urge to learn that new skill that is now available online was just a passing memory. But even bearing this in mind, and as much as what I am grateful to have my job still and being busier than ever before, I am slightly envious of all the content that can be consumed that is available on various education platforms, including our own SYSPRO Learning Channel. One day…
9. You realize that the importance of human connection can’t be replaced by a screen
When working from home remotely, your connection to the office is all online – once again thank goodness for technology. But with being in lockdown, it also means that everything else is online too. Your family’s education needs, your regular entertainment, your get-togethers with family and friends are now on Zoom or Teams, even your fitness classes are presented via some online streaming service. Once the novelty wears off, you realize that seeing people in person does something for your mental health and your soul. I’m looking forward to the day that I can hug my loved ones without fear.
And now for the good news
Now that we are allowed to exercise within a much larger and more accessible curfew, we get to see how much this break has done for the natural world. Mother nature got a well-deserved break. It does warm one’s heart to see how the skies are starting to clear themselves, just like the oceans are doing. We see, read, or hear reports of how animal life is slowly returning to places where we wouldn’t be expecting to ever see these animals.
More people have realized the importance of daily movement, not just to get them out of the house but for the benefit of not being sedentary the whole day in front of a screen, but for mental and emotional wellbeing too. We once again stop to smell the flowers, notice the change of seasons.
Family bonds have felt this time of “forced connection” as well. Whatever the outcome for this may be, we did come to the realization that the old folks were on to something when they said that we should all slow down a bit. Learn to make food together as a family, eat as a family.
I, for one, am still in favor of working remotely, but I do think that a happy medium must be reached in terms of our environment. And I am talking about all the environments, the natural world, the office, the economy, the support structures, the family. Perhaps now that we are slowly returning to the prior normal, we should evaluate things like a predominately work remotely culture but with the in-person connection not just permitted but encouraged. A culture where self-care is just as important as being productive. Be mindful, slow down, and do it well.