Jessica joined RWA in 2018, having graduated with a First Class Honours degree in Film Studies. Her role as a content designer involves developing new and engaging e-learning modules as well as assisting in the creation of articles for Insight.
As we approach another possible month of lockdown, it is clear that the novelty of remote working has worn very thin. Those of us with a role that can be carried out remotely are currently working in makeshift offices fashioned from kitchen tables, spare bedrooms or -in my case- a bookshelf under the living room window. Some are coping with the situation better than others, but there is an increasing worry among employees that work is intruding into their personal life.
In the days before the start of the pandemic, we could come home from work and leave any outstanding problems to be dealt with the next day. Now that we are working from home, the problems are there with us, and there are no pubs, gyms, or other facilities to help us get away from it. As a result, we are spending an average of 48.5 minutes more at work each day, attending with more meetings an emails trying to solve one problem after another long after the 9-5 working day has ended.
I myself have been guilty of working anything from ten minutes to an extra hour past the time I should have. Forgot to have lunch? Better eat at my desk while I finish this email or skip lunch altogether. That zoom meeting overran by 20 minutes? I’ll make up for it for an extra half hour after work. That email sent at 6 in the morning? Best to read it and send a response straight away! The list goes on.
There are many reasons as to why the work-life balance has become blurred, including the examples mentioned above. Without the structure of a normal working week - such as the daily commute to the office or the quick trip to the nearest café for lunch- the only semblance of normality prior to lockdown is work, and the extra time we have lost is now taken up by more time in front of our screens. Combined with an increase in employee monitoring software, many feel pressured into staying at their desks in a bid to increase their productivity.
Burnout was already an issue for businesses, but the ongoing pandemic has exacerbated the problem to a point where employees are feeling more fatigued than they ever were in an office environment.
A culture focused on the ‘right to disconnect’ is more critical than one that is ‘always on’. The advantage given to us is that everyone is adjusting to these extraordinary circumstances, making this new hybrid culture more important than ever to get things moving in the right direction. Speaking to colleagues of their shared experiences is just one of the ways to regain that work-life balance, providing support and encouragement to one another when things get tough.
Regular business news and commentary delivered direct to your inbox each week. Sign up here