In the not-so-distant past, working-from-home was a dream that meant independence from our office jobs. The pandemic brought reprieve from our 9-to-5 grind, and it was fashionable to exchange rush-hour commutes and bad Styrofoam coffee for Zoomullets (business-casual on top and rocking pajamas below). As months turned into years, the novelty wore off. The new normal has been casted, and our collective sentiment has shifted away from the workplace revolution.
Today many feel stuck in an endless loop of blursdays; where one day bleeds into the next with no boundary between this day and that. As a result, the distinctions that sets mornings apart from evenings (and weekdays apart from weekends) lose their significance and become mundane.
Don’t get me wrong, WFH life has its perks. You get to engineer your own workspace, dress codes are more relaxed, and schedules are flexible and customizable. But it’s a double-edged sword. In the absence of clear boundaries between my professional and personal life, I tend to work longer hours, and am prone to feelings of isolation without the common office social interactions. It’s what MBAs call an “opportunity cost,” when you forego one opportunity in order to redirect your resources toward another.
The key to surviving a remote-work situation isn’t to pick a position between two extremes (office v. home) and never changing your mind. Churchill famously quipped “those who never change their mind, never change anything.” Rather, the key is to manage pain points in your situation. I don’t work from the couch in our living room because it blurs the line between home and job. Moreover, it forces me to have a dedicated workspace. When I am in my office, I am working on work. I can be dad, or husband or any of the other roles in need to be outside of the “office.”
It’s also critical to remain socially connected. Professional gatherings are few and far between with a workplace-as-a-destination model. So, travel to conferences and attend in-person seminars (even if they are optional). To exacerbate things, making friends as an adult is nearly impossible. I manage this by volunteering with my neighborhood association, and co-authoring vocational training material.
The point is, it’s easy to get stuck in an endless routine of repetition and mediocrity. But the blursday-blues can be broken. Stay hydrated. Get outside. Breathe that fresh autumn air, and take care of yourself. The Farmers’ Almanac is predicting a cold and snowy winter. While this might sound like the time to hunker inside and wait until warmer weather, I say no! I suggest we search for the illusive work-life balance, knock off early, and find the nearest sledding hill.
Going Solo is an advice column by Michael Whalen, MBA, for entrepreneurs or corporate employees working remotely out of their homes.