While the nation suddenly discovered what their partners actually did at work, as we all learned what our boss’ kitchen looked like, the pandemic meant we were all adapting to a new work style. One group of people who were perhaps a little more accustomed to this kind of work life were freelancers. The self-employed who were familiar with working from home, and trying to avoid laundry piles and fridge raids.
Two years later, what is work life in 2022? The great resignation, quiet quitting, hybrid, flex, remote, working from home? Our working lives have been thrown into the air and it feels as if we are now piecing together the parts where they have landed.
Work Life in 2022
Here is what I believe are some of the key elements to our work life in 2022.
• Work life has become much more about life over and above a hustle culture. That is a culture glorifying 60-hour weeks, rinsing you of energy, leaving you empty for your family and personal life and resulting in burnout.
> It has become about working more on your own terms, fitting work around life rather than your life around work.
• Work life is about finding the purpose in what you do and the joy in your job rather than the dread.
> It has become about freedom and flexibility. Flexible working that goes beyond hybrid and homeworking but that takes into account hours and work patterns as well as location.
For Working Families, this week (October 10th-14th) marks work life week. They are wanting to increase more flexibility in roles, something that can improve inclusivity, diversity and offer opportunities for those who might otherwise be unable to work.
Leading Midlands recruitment firm, SF recruitment, has seen the power of increased flexibility in people’s working lives.
Saira Demmer their CEO, said: “We are strong believers in the power of personal autonomy to drive happiness at work and therefore flexibility has become a core component of our business model. Flexibility isn’t just about working hours – although they are important – for us it’s about having the freedom to make your own decisions and to adapt the way you work; how and when you need to. It’s been hugely successful for us, boosting staff productivity and improving retention. We’ve even seen our gender pay gap tilt slightly in favour of women this year as it’s giving working parents an easier route to success. We want to share our positive experiences and use our platform to support the businesses and candidates we work with”.
Work Life Balance
The phrase work-life balance has become synonymous with working less and spending more time on leisure of family activities. However, in today’s world, that is not always realistic. You may find you love your work. There will be periods where you need to dedicate more time to it.
Work life balance in 2022 is about being more intentional with how we spend our time and manage our tasks. The intentionality comes into play both when allocating time to work, personal time and life admin as well as within those categories as well.
Balance has become about what works for you. It is a very individual process. In issue 10, The Balance issue of The Homeworker, our article on work-life balance said:
“Pinpointing where you feel out of kilter and what aspects of your life you want to improve, will help you to be more intentional in dedicating time to those areas.
“Where we can start to achieve a better work-life balance is by questioning more. Asking ourselves whether how we are spending our time and who we are spending it with aligns with our values and promotes a better sense of wellbeing…
“Implementing boundaries, gaining flexible working, and using effective time management may well facilitate you achieving a work-life balance, but in order to make use of them we need to understand what we want out of life, get intentional with our precious time, and then start living in true alignment.”
Work from anywhere
In Bulgaria, each summer, the Bankso Digital Nomad Fest brings together hundreds of digital nomads and remote workers. Hosted by Coworking Bankso, it features workshops, presentations and talks alongside rafting, wine tours and speed dating.
It is symptomatic of the increased freedom and yearning to combine work with travel and adventure. Working from home or remotely is leading to more borderless work lives. The rise of the digital nomad means Work From Anywhere (WFA) is replacing WFH.
Freelancers and self-employed workers are more likely to be able to enjoy the nomadic life. We interviewed Sarah Banks, founder of Banks’ Business Solutions about how she managed a round the world family trip while running her business. (See the interview in issue 3- Communication).
Establishing a new Workstyle
There is still reluctance from some organisations and individuals to embrace newer, arguably smarter ways of working. However, The World Economic Forum reported on a study showing 65% of people working remotely during the pandemic wanted to continue doing so. Only 2% wanted to return to the office full time.
Many studies and polls echo these findings. The majority of workers seem to support a hybrid or more remote nature of working.
In an interview for The Homeworker magazine (issue 16 – out Oct 17 2022) Alex Hirst, founder of Hoxby and co-author of Workstyle said: “The balance of power is shifting increasingly into the hands of people and the war for talent will be won by the organisations that people choose to be part of – autonomy and purpose will be central to that choice.”
Leadership will need to change and we require more self-leadership to perform better when working from home as well.
In The Homeworker 5 pillars model, I share how organisations and individuals can work together with shared responsibility and accountability to create thriving, motivated, creative and trusting remote teams. Find out more here.
Leadership and new ways of working
As the article Exposing The Cracks: How remote working will redefine leadership and challenge managers to find new ways to connect and maintain influence in The Homeworker volume 2 noted, remote working requires a different style of leadership and communication.
Melissa Curran, author of Emotioneering Business Results and founder of Modern Mind Group spoke to The Homeworker, saying that leaders have a responsibility to change their communication style to get the best out of their teams. “It is not [the] team’s priority to get on board with my mission and how I want to communicate… That’s not going to get you a high performing team or a highly engaged team because people have different wants and needs…”
Being proactive with your communication as a leader is also crucial in today’s work-life. We can no longer sit passively, waiting for people to knock on the door of the office.
In a remote setting, Melissa says, “Your people won’t come to you when they have a problem unless you’re going to them, unless you’re making a connection or enough of an effort for them to know that it’s okay to do that. If you’re just expecting them to come to you with a challenge or to say they’re feeling demotivated, they’re not going to do that for fear they’ll risk losing their jobs. You have to go to them.”
Work Life in the future
Looking further ahead, the concept of all of us being part of decentralised opt-in workforce is one Richard Skellett, founder of Digital Anthropology, is predicting. In this article on the future of work, he shares how he sees business models of the future, with us all becoming “mutable”. He says, “As a group we’re saying organisations need to be in a permanent state of reinvention therefore individuals need to be in a permanent state of reinvention.”
He believes our work life will become more autonomous and we will all need to operate as “mini outsourcers”.
Alex Hirst agrees that decentralised, autonomous organisations will increase, acting like “nodal communities” driven by a shared sense of purpose.
What is clear is that work life has changed irreversibly. The boundaries have blurred both physically and metaphorically. The pandemic catalysed a reprioritising of values and desires. Work life is simply life, but we are now making sure it is as fulfilling, sustainable and healthy as we can make it.
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