We have now lived in a pandemic for approximately two years. Two years of uncertainty of what will happen, when will we go back to normal and thoughts about what normal even is. Many of you can possibly agree with me that these two years have gone by extremely fast, and way too slow at the same time.
But what has happened to us during these two years?
Many of us have been working from home, some of us did it before the pandemic and for some this is a totally new experience. The difference is that now we all got forced into it, you had nothing to say about it or choice, just do what you’re told.
Michael Allvin described this flexible work environment as Boundless work. To be able to succeed through boundless work the individual needs to have the capability to plan their own schedule combined with good communication skills. Which is not for everyone.
In my opinion there are two main reasons for how the boundless work combined with living in a pandemic has affected us in a negative way.
First of all, I want to mention the unwanted loneliness. With unwanted loneliness I’m talking about going from working in a specific workplace with daily human interaction, and all of a sudden, being forbidden any kind of human interaction. When you work from home you might interact with your colleagues online, you call or text them if you need some help and most of the time that’s it. However, at the office you interact with your colleagues in a way no cellphone could ever replace. You see facial expressions, body language and most importantly you feel surrounded by real people working against the same goal as you are. Human interactions and daily small talk makes such a difference to people’s stress levels, self esteem and happiness. I can talk about this for hours, what I think will happen when we finally get back to normal and how lack of human interaction has affected us, but that’s for next time.
Second of all, if you’re not used to planning your own work schedule, it can be hard to know when your workday is really over. Before Covid you went to work for 9 hours and then you went home. Nowdays we work from home, we sleep at home and eat at home. Everything you do is at home. It’s so easy to just answer one last email or fix the little things you didn’t have time for during the day. The consequence of this is that we now might get stressed, it feels like the only thing we do is work and it’s never ending and we don’t know what’s expected of us anymore. The problem is that no one knows who’s responsible for this, the employee itself or the management. At a workplace there is a clear structure, what is expected of you, how your work days are looking like and basically no questions asked. One solution I believe in is to communicate. The Boundless workplace is something totally new for many of us, there has to be a mutual understanding from both sides so that we together can make new structures. No one wants to work for someone that has unreasonable demands and no manager wants to see their employees too stressed. It’s mutual and we try to figure this out together.
If we see it from the bright side there is always something good that comes out of the bad. One good consequence is how we now have proof that work tasks can be managed without being in a specific workplace. I believe that many managers were afraid of taking the risk of letting their employees decide where and how they would like to work. Then Covid happened, and we were forced to let our employees work from home. Now all of us do it, even if we want it or not. We tried, and if you ask me it has gone pretty well. No matter where in the world you live you are/were able to keep working thanks to the digital world that we live in, which in my opinion is something to be thankful for.
To sum it all up, there is a lot that’s been happening to us during these two years. We had to adjust ourselves whether we wanted it or not. We had to change how we interact with each other, how we work and even change our way of living. Out of a human and HR perspective I want to clarify the importance of communication. Most of this is new to all of us and we are all doing our best. Together we can make this new workplace into something great. Take care and remember, we are in this together!