Futon Company says: Now that September is well and truly here, it’s back to work and school with a vengeance! But this year, like last, comes with a new approach to life, and especially our ways of working. While not everyone is able to work from home, many companies and organisations are adapting a flexi approach to work – a mix of home and office working. And in an article in Red magazine called Reset your work life, Elizabeth Uviebinene explains how this new flexibility in the world of work can increase our sense of community and collaboration. Here, we cherry pick our favourite advice from her article:
Do you remember what your routine used to be? Did you rush from a crowded commute into a day of emails and meetings, grab a quick drink or exercise class and then head home to bed, exhausted? Perhaps that’s looking quite appealing right now. But what I want to know is, in your pre-lockdown life, did you ever have a minute to stop and ask yourself ‘what part of this am I choosing?’ I’m guessing not.
It feels like we were all on the same treadmill for years. On autopilot, moving along the ‘career path’ in exactly the same way as everyone else – until the pandemic hit and everyone woke up. Lockdown fundamentally changed everything, especially our relationships with work. Many of us spent years trying to negotiate flexible working, businesses struggled to keep up with changing technology, and we all navigated office politics. Then, overnight, home working became a given, we had to catch up with the latest tech and…… what office?
In the first lockdown we made sourdough while the sun shone, and scrambled to maintain something close to a typical day. More than 1.5 years on we’ve figured out working from home – and it’s stared to feel scarily like normal life…. So what now?
Some of us (may have been working in the office for a couple of months), or figuring out what our freelance set-up is going to look like going forward. No matter what your job is, things will be a bit different. Perhaps your company plans to encourage flexible working, or maybe all your meetings will include an online component. There could be different business priorities right now, and your team might have changed. Right now, it’s all to play for.
What’s clear is that work and life aren’t two separate things; they are intricately woven…. Whether you’re in an office or you’re freelance, this is your moment to radically reset your relationship with work. It’s about consciously considering what’s essential for keeping you engaged and motivated, and what you could do without. The question is what do we want to take with us? What’s possible now that felt impossible before?
Five ways to reset and recalibrate your career:
- Find your tribe, your vibe, re-find your community: A 2019 study revealed that 42% of millennial women are more afraid of loneliness than receiving a cancer diagnoses…. But while the pandemic exacerbated the difficulties of isolation for a lot of people, it has also shown us what community could look like… With a culture so focused on the hustle and performative workaholism, we need to spend time making and maintaining meaningful relationships. Instead of sticking to the same three friends or having lunch at your desk, reach out to a myriad of people.
- Demand more from office culture: We’ve been fed a diet of perks and packages for years, whether it’s Free Lunch Fridays or a gym…. but what would actually make your work life easier? Meeting free days, more communication channels with leadership… work out what you need and ask for it.
- Develop your skills and passion: Did you discover a hobby during lockdown that transformed your life?… Finding skills and interests matters, and not just for lazy Sundays. It’s up to you to shape your career around what excites you… Take the time to reconnect with what makes you feel alive, and bring those things to work.
- Stay balanced: I heard a lot of people over lockdown saying: ‘it’s not working from home, it’s living at work.’…Instead of complaining about your work-life balance, do something about it. Set a different routine and stick to it. Do you think best in the morning? Then do creative work first thing and take a break before getting down to your emails. Does your day only end when you have a bath? Light those candles at 6pm and shut down your screen. Only you can bring balance into your life, so establish the rules that will make your job and your life work in harmony.
- Work smarter, not harder: Productivity isn’t about working long hours, it’s about working smart hours. There are all sorts of practical ways to streamline your days, from diary management and clever list making to only going to meetings that are essential…. My last piece of advice? Learn to switch off…. You owe it to yourself to listen to your body and learn to unplug. When we can’t fully switch off, we can’t fully switch back on. It’s our ability to relax, to be bored and to stop that enables us to be productive, creative and turn all the way up. Elizabeth Uviebinene’s book The Reset: Ideas to change how we work and live is out now.
Futon Company says: We enjoyed this article very much! The opportunity to take a step back from our old way of living and adapt to create a more fulfilling and meaningful life is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, and a real gift! For our part, the working from home aspect to this means creating a work space that fulfils and meets your needs, for example a surface for your laptop (even if your space is limited), a storage space for your workbooks and kit, and basic office essentials. Let’s get ready, steady, reset!