Pre-COVID. Post-COVID. For an old Millennial like me, this is how we will forever define a time of our lives. For generations to come after COVID-19, we’ll tell the tales of Disneyland Resort Annual Passes, packed concerts, and screaming fans at a sports game without masks; all but memories of a time pre-COVID.
As we come close to a year of living with COVID-19, I can’t help but think about some of the mixed blessings it brought me and how there are some things I just don’t want to be like they were before the Coronavirus pandemic swept the world.
Before COVID-19, I had to beg to work from home for really legitimate reasons: illness, school service days, doctor appointments, daycare tours, contractors.
While I fully realize there are some parents that would give their right arm to go back into an office full of adults, I wouldn’t mind a more hybrid approach.
Working from home has given me the gift of time, space, and privacy to think through my work and avoid a dreadful commute that took me away from my kids way too much.
Sure, I miss hanging over the cube of my favorite colleagues and getting to know my coworkers more intimately over lunch, but honestly I prefer somewhere in the middle. A day or two to come into the office for important meetings so I can read body language and build better relationships. And then maybe work from home the rest of the week so I can block out time to focus while also being home with my family at a reasonable hour.
And, I’m not alone.
According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), in a survey of 1,200 participants, it was reported that more than half of U.S. workers said they prefer working remotely three days a week. However, 68 percent of 133 executives said workers should be in the office at least three days a week, citing concerns that company culture will not survive a purely remote work model.
This disconnect had me curious.
What kind of culture is being created if employees prefer not to be present in their office? I mean it’s only one day off, but I’m already hearing stories of corporate leaders demanding a full return to the office before the vaccine is rolled out to the general public. Are we not still taking the recommendations of health experts and working from home when we can?
Where do we draw the line and allow employees to truly have power over where they know they work best, how they work best, and when they work best?
Parents especially need this kind of autonomy. In a world where childcare is becoming increasingly difficult to find, jobs continue to demand more hours of us, and the pandemic has no signs of ending soon, us old Millennials tend to be sandwiched choosing between staying home to care for a young child or taking off work to drive parents to doctor appointments.
We’re multitasking extraordinaires who turned moonlighting into the side-hustle and made it cool. We invented social media and perfected the instant messenger. We learned the hard way there’s a time and place to be distracted and to be mindful.
If there’s a generation that can learn how to work from home and work from an office after COVID-19, it’s us. All while juggling parenthood.
Please don’t make us choose where, how, and when we choose to work too soon. And please don’t force your preferences onto us. We got this. We do.
The sooner employers figure this out, the better the productivity of organizations will be after COVID-19.