Around 18 months ago, the idea of working from home full-time was not an option for many people. However, last year it became our reality. Suddenly we had to adjust to new ways of working. We had to make space at home to work in the same way or as close to how we would in the office.
The world didn’t stop, we showed that it could in fact be done. But it happened because we were forced to rather than companies allowing it or wanting it to happen.
And now, as we get closer to getting ‘back to normal’, a lot of companies want the traditional ways of the 9-5 to return. However, many employees have adjusted to the new way of life and don’t want to go back.
They now save time and money spent on their journeys into work, are less likely to buy lunch, have more flexibility over how they spend their day and more.
For others, working from home may have brought less routine, more distractions, less productivity and a loss of culture/community.
I don’t think it’s a case of picking working from home or from the office but instead acknowledging that both options can work well and then finding a new way.
We don’t need to just go back to the way things were but we don’t need to totally abandon the office.
A while from now we’ll be living in a post pandemic world. Companies and businesses will have to make decisions about the way they will choose to work moving forward.
Presentations, discussions, conversations and updates are all being done remotely when normally they’d have required meetings.
Those meetings may have involved: a journey to another city by car or train, a large group when only a small few were needed or time wasted because it could have easily been a 10 minute conversation over the phone.
But when the world goes back to the office, back to the normal 9 to 5 lifestyle, I have no doubt that there will still be unnecessary meetings.
And so a question worth pondering on is, ‘Why do we meet when we know we don’t need to?’
Turns out that the 9-5 isn’t as necessary as it once was.
With everything going on in the world meetings are becoming emails or being done by video, travel has come to a halt and working from home may become the non-optional office alternative.
Despite the unfortunate situation that has caused things to change, I can’t help but notice that there is something to learn.
As someone that works in an office less than 50% of what I do requires me to be in the building or to interact with my co-workers.
But I can imagine a time when people used typewriters or even computers that you couldn’t physically take home. Back then, being in your office was necessary to undertake your work.
These days all you need is a laptop and you can use that anywhere.
I’m not championing no longer having an office at all. However, I do think it is worth exploring how often you actually need to be in the company office and the purpose that it serves.
For many it’s the social aspect of going to the kitchen for tea and a catch up with a work pal, it’s meeting people when you’re new to the city, it’s having a space to work for those with limited room at home or those wanting to maintain separation between work and life.
Having an office to go to isn’t necessary for 8 hours a day, 5 days a week but it does come with benefits.
It introduces us to new people, gives us a routine and gives us the opportunity to be part of a culture.
Things get much more interesting if we think of ourselves as actors.
Something I’ve learnt is that people probably aren’t going to go above and beyond for you. But if you practice confidence and you make yourself visible you’re more likely to get your needs met.
It’s like actors in a show. The main character will always get more attention than the one that just plays a minor role. And in the workplace you get to choose which role you play.
Of course it’s not easy putting yourself in the main role whereas it’s as easy as cherry pie to take the role of a background character.
When you play in the background there’s little expectation, you don’t get much attention and if you don’t show up nobody cares.
So, what happens when the background character wants more responsibility and the opportunity to show up and actually do something that matters, like a main character.
Turns out you can’t have it both ways.
They’re both important.
We live in a society where it’s not uncommon to find people almost competing about who works the hardest.
Working a 9to5.
Working a 9to5 then a passion project 5to9.
Staying in the office till late.
Being self employed and working 7 days a week.
Coming into the office at the weekend.
We hear about working hard all the time but we rarely hear about play. There’s emphasis on resting from the work. But I’m a big believer in work and play.
I don’t believe in working for the weekend as though those 2 days are your reward for slaving away for the 5 days prior.
My ideas on work and play aren’t about a work life balance but more about just enjoying life as a whole.
So yes, meet your deadlines, impress the clients and do great work but also enjoy it.
In an age where we can create our own platforms and put our voices out there I often ask myself if I should be doing more.
Granted I have 2 blogs alongside working full-time and studying part-time but writing on my blog is something that is so safe and familiar to me that I wonder if I should be doing more to stretch myself.
I can’t help but wonder if with all the potential and opportunity in the world right now if just working a 9-5 is enough. In the last 20 years things have changed a hell of a lot and I often think about all the things I’ve ever thought of doing and could be doing.
Speaking, presenting, storytelling, podcasting, youtube, volunteering or starting a business.
I’ve even noticed that a 9-5 for so many is just a means to an end until the side hustle earns them enough money to sustain the minimum lifestyle they require. And even if the side hustle doesn’t become a fulltime thing, they care about it and put so much more into it than they do with there day job.
A lot of us worked towards getting ‘good’ or ‘stable’ jobs in order to live the standard or expected lifestyle. But we never stopped to consider the importance of having, love, joy and excitement for what we do.
Or we didn’t even consider it as an option.
I’d love to know your thoughts.
Is your job your main passion?
Do you have a side hobby or side hustle?