The “New” Office Life: One Year Later

April 07, 2021

When COVID-19 disrupted the world in March 2020, everyone was forced to alter their typical routines. What initially started as a two-week lockdown turned into our “new normal;” and even when the world gets back to business post-COVID, many changes to how we work are expected to last.

Establishing a Designated Workspace at Home

Since the pandemic forced people out of their offices, work and home lives have merged into one. For some, there are multiple people working from the same home – a couple in a single family home, three roommates in a 1,000 square foot apartment, or parents with kids who are also in school. This has changed the way people consider the functionality of their space. Now when people look to buy a house or sign a new lease, many are vying for a designated home office space, a large kitchen with room for an oversized table, or even just big windows to allow for more natural light. The overall outlook on what a home is for has shifted to accommodate more work, even when work is now always at home.

Additionally, people have learned the “must-haves” for their home office space. That could be a chair with more support, a real desk with storage space, or multiple computer monitors – whatever works to make the at-home workspace run as smoothly as the in-office workspace.

Adopting New Technologies

In order to mimic the feeling of in-person meetings, professionals turned to video platforms like Zoom and Microsoft Teams. Unsurprisingly, even colleagues who didn’t share an office building before are now jumping on face-to-face “calls” from all over the globe. A company’s Virtual Private Network – or VPN – has also become a necessary technology that professionals have adapted to using at home. The VPN allows employees to access company data and share information securely, no matter where they’re located.

The pandemic has made it clear that our society is dependent on digital technologies beyond our professional lives. With local or office gyms limited, nowhere to grab a quick bite or drink near the office, and most entertainment venues shuttered, people turned to their devices. There’s been a boom in online streaming services, exercise platforms, and online shopping, as well as food delivery apps like Door Dash, Uber Eats, and GrubHub.

Reallocating Commute Time

With the shift to working from home, commuting has been eliminated for many people. Initially this led to a longer workday because people had more time and availability to work. It also caused added stress and burnout for many employees. To combat the pull against work-live balance, employees are incorporating intentional movement during the day to mimic a commute, even getting up 30 minutes earlier to get a coffee or read the newspaper. They are also setting time aside for lunch away from their workspace and taking morning or evening walks.

Maintaining Work/Life Balance

The relentlessness of the work-from-home routine has many professionals experiencing more burnout than ever before. Because keeping an eye on your mental health is more important than ever before, it’s vital to set clear boundaries between work life and home life. Even small steps like letting your boss know you can’t do meetings after 5 p.m. or turning off your camera on early morning video calls can remove a lot of unnecessary stress.

COVID-19 affected all corners of our lives. Check back here for the next blog in our mini-series, which will detail the new tools of the trade that have emerged due to the pandemic.

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