Does “The Great Return” mean the end of your flexible working hours?
I vividly remember that day in March 2020 when the whole country went into lockdown. The first thought I had was “How on earth am I going to survive on video calls and virtual meetings? How will I get my work done, who will keep me company?
What followed was a honeymoon period of reconnecting with my family, learning to do the lighting right on Teams, and sewing facemasks as per YouTube tutorials. The rollercoaster continued, dipping into cabin fever for a few days, then that euphoric realization that I could wear my slippers 24/7 would hit, and all would be good in the world again. Eventually, the world settled into a rhythm and the digital world became a familiar place. We all had the flexibility to work when it suited us and to work other priorities into our days. Our children and pets got used to having us around and our wardrobes gained that business on top and comfy on the bottom look.
Now it's 2022 and we’ve beaten the virus, we’ve thrown out the masks and are all making our way back to the office. For some this has been almost a greater change than 18 months of Lockdown. Suddenly we’re back in the traffic and realize that our 9 to 5 is impacting the work-life balance that we had grown accustomed to. It seems like we are getting less done in the same time and don’t have the same amount of family time.
I realized that while at home I would start working earlier and knock off a bit later, and get a lot more done. I still had time in between to do household/family things without losing productivity. I spent a lot less on fuel and was a lot calmer and much more organized. I enjoyed being able to structure my time and get everything done in the most efficient way. Going back to the office had the potential to limit this autonomy and flexibility.
Here are some ways that you can take part in the “Great Return” and still keep your flexibility.
1. Many companies still offer flexible working hours.
If yours doesn’t speak to your HRM about working a hybrid home/office schedule. Your track record over lockdown will be a good starting point for this discussion.
2. Consider contracting or consulting work.
Market the skills that you built during the lockdown such as digital capability, virtual teaming, international exposure, and new technical capabilities to gain a gig as a consultant that will allow you to manage your own time.
3. Continue your online learning journey
Online learning platforms offer very cost-effective solutions that will help you pick up new skills and certifications, opening up virtual career options.
4. Use this opportunity to make that career change that you’ve been thinking about
The “Great Return” has made the job market more fluid, with many new opportunities opening up. Is there something you’ve been wanting to do differently for a while but haven’t felt ready for? Now is the time to take a well-planned step in a new direction. Watch this space in January 2023, DLK group always has new opportunities for consultants who work in the IT sector.
The last 2 years have been life-changing for many people, resetting priorities and building our inner reserves. Once again the landscape and world of work are changing and we all shape our lives in a way that suits us as humans.
By Belinda Kovachi