So, how is this pandemic going for you? Personally I'm over it. I am not looking forward to a long winter cooped up with few distractions; no restaurants, movie theaters, museums or concerts to go to (or very limited at best). So, I've had to have a little talk with myself; the only thing I control in all of this is me and I am reminded of the quote from Leonard Cohen: "There is a crack in everything, that's how the light gets in".
Here are some shafts of light I've found, opportunities in a dark pandemic.
1. We will never work the same way again. Working from home is here to stay - not as a steady diet (like during the pandemic), but as a component of a healthy working diet that will see the last organizational hold-outs concede employees are productive working at home. Flexibility to work where you need to, to accommodate life, is now permanently an option for professionals. Studies are showing that most office-based jobs won't be 100% work from home after the pandemic, but employers will embrace this option as a way to reduce costs associated with office space, find scarce skills in tight labour markets, and to support the productivity and well being of their employees.
2. Flow happens in both directions. "Flow", that ephemeral state of bliss when you can immerse yourself in what you are doing, is more possible when you own your day start to finish. With greater flexibility and autonomy over your working day you can flow to the work, supporting greater flow when you work. Waking up energized to start the day is important to your well-being, but energy doesn't happen on-demand between 9 and 5. Working from home you can start at 7:00 if that is when you want to, or 9:30, and not be locked in to a rigid schedule every day that often stifles creativity. Just remember to end your working day accordingly, allowing you to moderate work, life and expectations.
3. Life can happen at work. It always could, but it was a lot harder to pop out for a walk when working in an office setting (in dry-clean-only dress clothes). Now, you have more flexibility in what you wear to work, and opportunities to take a walk mid-day when you want/need to. Working from home, your work day can better wrap itself lovingly around your personal time and family, allowing you to think about dinner during the day, or drop the kiddos off at school. No commute means when you log-off at the end of your work day you have the grace to switch into life and family mode more quickly; more quality time at home with less exhaustion.
In looking at these three things, they influence a large spectrum of the work week in very positive ways, providing both light and opportunity.
We didn't ask for a pandemic, nor are we immune to the fears and concern it raises in our communities, families and in ourselves. Yet, it is important to keep sight of the good that comes through chaos. What this pandemic demands of each of us is courage.
May whatever light and opportunity you see in your days help keep you whole and healthy in the months to come.