By Mark P. Janci, CFP®, CPWA®, AIF®, Regional Director
As we eagerly await the fuller reopening of our lives, I believe it would be worthwhile to take stock of the accommodations we have all made to survive and thrive during this pandemic. While our front-line heroes – from health care providers to grocery store stockers – never stopped working on site, most of us embraced remote work. We shifted to Zoom and Teams. We were with our families full time. We stayed home and stayed safe.
Many working people found a way to reinforce their value to their company, their clients, and their customers. However, all of these changes required us to lower the healthy boundaries we had created between work and home. For many this was a radical shift, with work reshaping our home lives.
Blurred Boundaries Have Become the Norm
Prior to COVID 19, answering a business phone call or text while entertaining dinner guests in your home would have required an apology. Now the lines between work-life and home-life are VERY blurred at best. Dining room tables are now work stations, bedrooms are staged for Zoom meetings.
This issue of blurred boundary lines is especially true for families with young children. When my children were young, I would focus my time commuting home to clear my mind of the demands of my workday, which enabled me to be very present with them. Work was what I did ‘away-from-home.’ When I entered our house – I was Dad, I was home.
My kids are grown now, but in navigating the past 18 months, these boundary lines have been redrawn for all of us. We all adapted. We all had to make accommodations for work, for school, and for our sanity! That said, young children mostly desire us to show genuine interest in them, and do not want to hear or talk much about our work.
We will soon face a new set of decisions about how we will do our work. It would be wise to first assess what has and has not worked well over the past 18 months. Here are some initial questions.
Ready for a Hybrid Redux Work World?
At present, a great deal of uncertainty remains about the future of work. The pandemic does not offer a determined stop-date, which has led employers to talk about choice, flexibility, and hybrid models. Not stated is that the work associated with your position still needs to be done well. A few questions to consider here:
Creating a New Set of Boundaries
In some ways, my pre-COVID commute home was an easier, physical way to set boundaries between my work-self and my Dad-self. The hybrid work model will require many more conscious choices and personal commitments if you are going to reestablish healthy boundaries. Now is a great time to write down the pros and cons of the hybrid choices you may be considering.
If your plan is to incorporate some form of regular work from home, consider taking the time to think through how you might establish firmer boundaries between work-life and home-life:
Your employer, should you have one, will likely ask you to share your post-pandemic working preferences. If you’re self-employed or own or run a business, you can ask this of yourself. Why not take this time to look at the whole of your life and consider reinstituting some healthy boundaries? You, and your family, will be happy you did!
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