Mixture of working online, with others in person is optimal solution for issues with work-life balance
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, people have further developed their opinions about being home. Trading classrooms and offices with sweatpants and cats sitting on our computers, our relationships with working outside of a professional environment have evolved over the course of the past three years.
In some ways, the ability to work in a more relaxed atmosphere has curbed a lot of anxiety about work and classroom performance. This is especially important because the last three years have seen anxiety levels reaching to approximately 50% nationwide, a percentage that is over six times the levels in 2019. We have also seen depression rates skyrocket due to the isolation caused by the quarantine — one of the many tragedies brought about by the pandemic. Subsequently, the question of whether working from home should remain part of our lives is a complicated one with many perspectives, and needs a nuanced introspection as we forge a path towards a post-pandemic future.
With masks coming off and social distancing hopefully becoming a thing of the past , there has been a shift to a more hybrid online and in-person version of the world. Though we are almost fully back in person, more and more people are showing interest in remote job opportunities, and some schools and workplaces have options for part-time Zoom attendance.
Working from home, though often isolating, has caused us to reevaluate the 40-hour workweeks and long hours sitting in a classroom. Maybe it is the pressure to be constantly engaged that has us yearning to be back in bed or the freedom to be “business on top, party at the bottom.”. Personally, working from home has been a blessing in disguise, as it has given me a chance to create a healthier work-life balance. I also have more opportunities to make money while still in school.
However, acknowledging the disadvantages that come with being away from a tangible workplace or school environment is also important. Though Zoom classes allowed the shy kid to finally give their perspective in a less anxiety-inducing environment, there is a sense of accountability created in person that is lost online. Frankly, being able to see my friends during lunch has increased my mental wellbeing a lot more than I anticipated.
Communication and collaboration, two essential parts of classroom and workplace culture, are diminished significantly while working from home. Online learning also severely hinders a student’s ability to learn with verbal and nonverbal communication. Though convenient for some, online communication often does not take into account economically challenged households, who struggle with computer access, quiet study spaces and more. My experience with remote learning has been positive overall, but it has not come without its ups and downs, mostly in the form of mental health.
Nonetheless, the hybrid version of an optional remote lifestyle has diminished a lot of the downfalls of working from home. We now have the options for creating a new, healthier work-life balance that will decrease overwhelming feelings and bring us one step closer to happiness, by accounting for our place in an unpredictable, ever-changing world.