Work-life balance has been talked about since the 1980s. During the last decade or two, it has become increasingly discussed and examined due to the sweeping impacts of technology’s advances and proliferation that have created an “online all the time” world. And now, the deep-reaching impacts of COVID-19 have cast a new light on this topic.
What is Work-Life Balance?
Work-life balance is a state of equilibrium between the demands of work and the requirements (and pleasures) of one’s personal life. It does not mean a constantly equal division between the segments of life, but rather a complementary relationship between them that promotes health and happiness. Author Orison Swett Marden put it this way, “Work, love, and play are the great balance wheels of man’s being.” In a busy, demanding world, it may be easy to be swept up by the demands of work. One anonymous author encouraged careful “balance” to the priorities of life this way, “No matter how busy you are, or how busy you think you are, the work will always be there tomorrow, but your friends might not be.” Thus, the demands of life must be looked at harmoniously and integrated in a healthy manner.
Work-Life Balance Effects of the Pandemic
The world has been shaken with mass furloughs and layoffs, illnesses, restricted activities, lost jobs, and workers now working from home. That means that many households are managing work conditions and family demands in the same space and at the same time. Many adults have had to deal with the competing roles and requirements of being teachers, babysitters, entertainers, and employees.
At the same time, employers have been forced into new remote working requirements. That has changed the way organizations communicate, manage tasks, evaluate productivity and performance, engender loyalty, and keep company worker relationships healthy.
This “new normal” offers these new perspectives, each impacting work-life balance:
- Companies will need to provide new and different types of support to employees. Without as much face-to-face contact, keeping employees engaged and productive is seen as being increasingly challenging.
- Technology reliance and support needs and usage have skyrocketed.
- Business organizational concepts and leadership needs may evolve.
- Company bureaucracy may change as processes are driven to be more innovative and business operations become more flexible.
- All employee roles will be more carefully examined and individual performances will come under new scrutiny.
- Physical workplace requirements and layouts will likely change.
What Offices Will Look Like After the Pandemic
Real estate is a critical element of the U.S economy and the COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on all types of business enterprises.
Office space requirements may change as businesses find that working remotely can really work, thus requiring smaller and more flexible office needs. Office designs will likely change. Cubicles and dividers of the past had previously migrated to more open spaces with more workers working side-by-side to encourage collaboration. New spaces may provide for separated and spaced working desks, barriers to protect against the spread of disease, different workflows, and different spaces to congregate. Technology applications will certainly be increasingly important.
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