How to maintain work-life flexibility as the pandemic moves into history?

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By Debbie Wershler

As challenging as COVID-19 has been with its unexpected disruption to businesses and personal lives, there are some amazing positives that have come out of this experience. From flexible work arrangements to improved personal relationships and increased time for hobbies, people around the world have used this situation to create a happier and healthier life.

In March, we were all forced to immediately slow down – no dance classes or swim lessons to take the kids to, no gym that you needed to maintain your routine with, no social gatherings to plan to keep our busy lives even busier.  The sudden halt to all those activities meant that we needed to entertain ourselves in our homes, resulting in more focussed family time together.  Old board games got dusted off, family movie nights became more common, and family meals were no longer a challenge.

We instantly had no where to go and very little to do outside of work. Jigsaw puzzles were flying off Amazon’s shelves for the first time ever and books regained their popularity. It took us back to some of the activities of old and gave us the time to reacquaint ourselves in the things many of us grew up doing.

With restaurant closures and more time at home, people turned to cooking family favorites or trying new recipes. Who would have ever dreamed that there would be a shortage of yeast and flour? Fresh bread every day may not be doing much for the waistlines, but it sure tastes good!

Being home more also provided the opportunity to connect with our neighbors. In our neighbourhood, we have been sharing treats back and forth across the fence more than ever including some of today’s cookies or muffins or last night’s homemade soup.

We have also seized the opportunity to get outdoors more – hiking, golfing, biking, and a multitude of other activities that got us out of the house and got us active.  The fresh air and sunshine were so helpful after our long winter.

That has been the “life” side of the work-life balance equation. When it comes to “work,” there have also been several benefits in the shift to working from home that go beyond increased physical and emotional well-being. It becomes apparent that employers are experiencing enhanced worker morale, productivity, and engagement. Telecommuting has shown to be successful. Even in the absence of a pandemic, many jobs will likely never go back to in-office roles 100 per cent of time.

A pandemic is not the only reason to maintain working remotely. A recent report shows that one in two people won’t return to jobs that don’t offer remote work after COVID-19. According to the findings, employees experience reduced stress due to the luxury of not having to sit in traffic, flexible schedules when it comes to attending to the needs of their personal lives and having the ability to eat healthier and keep physically active. People are adapting to remote work and making changes to their lifestyle decisions. A greater harmony between work and life is likely to become the best path forward.