Three years ago, as many became very comfortable with the home office, working professionals reevaluated priorities, values, and work-related expenses and realized that being “always on” wasn’t always desirable.
Working from home gave employees plenty of opportunities to take a break, handle personal calls, rotate the laundry, walk the dog, retrieve the mail; o.k., you get the picture.
Now, with the recent Return to Office (RTO) craze, employees are feeling despondent, stressed, and are quietly (planning) quitting as they seek new opportunities to get back home. Frustrated with inflation, workplace incidents, and roadway improvements (because let’s face it, cities seemed to have saved up three years of repairs for 2023 completion – thank you and you’re welcome commute warriors!), professionals are already fed up with (re)losing their lives to the corporate cog.
Personal lives have once again started to unravel, healthy routines pushed to the wayside, and employee satisfaction is at an all-time low. All the time and energy we put into get our act together during the pandemic went out the window, returning us to our toxic, stress-filled habits.
While some can and will return to a home-based role, rest assured that traditional corporate office work is here to stay for many. With that in mind, we shouldn’t give up or give in to the pressure to give 110% to the job.
Your number-one responsibility is to yourself. Not the job, your family, or your litany of obligations; you be numero uno. Selfish? You bet it is. Let’s get self-centered for a minute, shall we? If you are tired, gaining weight (my hand is up; again!), stressed out, angry (I’ll stop there), then you are not taking care of personal business.
Being in an office full-time, hybrid, or someplace in between, can be exhausting. However, not taking care of yourself multiples that exhaustion. Time for new habits and established boundaries. Yes, I understand reestablishing good habits to protect your energy and peace can be frustrating and time-consuming but trust the process will lead to better work-life balance. Some variables to consider:
Does your employer give you schedule flexibility? More specifically, do you have control over what time you arrive and depart the workplace each day? Perhaps you can work from home during the rush hour to avoid the stress related to road rage and traffic congestion. Or, can you journey ahead of that time period and get out early at the end of the day to avoid the mad dash home?
Is there an onsite gym or one close by the office? Many employers have added amenities, including private gym facilities, dry cleaners, and car detailers to support employees with many of life’s necessities. If you have access to a gym, especially if it’s free, schedule time for yourself. I have started taking my gym bag to my desk twice a week. It’s a signal to my coworkers that I value myself and am investing time into caring for me. It is also a reminder to me that my health matters more than my paycheck. This accomplishes two goals: improved physical (and mental) wellbeing and tells my coworkers I have work timeline boundaries (and I’m not exchanging my health for overwork).
Can you find personal service providers near the office? Lucky for me, my colorist, a favorite Italian food market, hairdresser, massage therapist, yoga studio, and two grocery stores are all on the path between home and office. Conveniently, I must pass each one of them three times a week, making it easy to couple my to-do list with my workday commute. This reduces the need to go back out into the world after I return to my home-based sanctuary. Need an additional win? If you’re eco-conscious, it also reduces your carbon footprint and your fuel costs; one less “start your engines” equates to money in your pocket.
Hybrid work can provide both obstacles and opportunities. If you don’t presently have a choice to be onsite, find small modifications to leverage your time wisely and get more out of the workday while taking care of yourself.
Your life is your business.