Will Corporate America Finally Embrace Work/Life Balance Post-COVID?
Updated: May 21
A Future of Work discussion with Erin Halper, Founder & CEO of The Upside, and Upside member Stacie Sussman
Has COVID affected the way most professionals view work/life balance?
Stacie: COVID has literally lifted the veil and illusion that we’re all balancing work and life so well. Wrong! We’ve made it work because most people were conforming with the societal norms of what’s acceptable.
Can I tell you I hate the word balance?
Erin: Yes, you can. And I agree, and I prefer the word integration. But the phrase work/life balance really does hit a nerve with most professionals.
And why is that?
It’s because trying to achieve some semblance of balance between work and life/family is their biggest daily challenge, and something managers--not necessarily companies--have been painfully slow to address.
But now with COVID, we’ve been thrown into our colleagues’ personal lives more than ever before, lifting the veil as you mentioned, and breaking down cultural barriers around the integration of career and home life.
Will C-Suite decision makers have more empathy for work/life balance post-COVID?
Erin: I can’t say for sure if they will have more empathy, especially if a manager’s attitude has always been “work above all else.”
But I do think employees will have more confidence in asking for what they need in terms of balance, like taking the afternoon off for an important doctor’s appointment or a child’s kindergarten graduation or for the care of an aging parent.
And if enough employees feel motivated to ask for what they need now that the illusion is finally lifted, managers will have no choice but to accept work/life balance as a norm, not as an extra benefit.
Stacie: I’m hopeful that the silver lining in the COVID pandemic is that C-Suite and key stakeholders will be more empathetic to their employees. Let’s hope this is an eye opening lesson from the great pause.
Will professionals demand bigger boundaries around work/life integration post-COVID?
Stacie: Yes, of course professionals should push and push hard on creating more boundaries on work/life balance. The companies that are really rising up during this time will be noticed.
A family friend of mine works at a bank. Not only did they set her up with a secure VPN computer, but they also gave her a bonus and an option to get paid 3X for working overtime. She’s home anyway and now they have a loyal employee for a long time.
Erin: 100%. We now see the reality of everyone’s home life. There’s nothing to hide anymore and no need to.
And when working from home with kids around--which is not what working from home normally looks like--professionalism as we know it goes out the door.
Now it’s perfectly acceptable to excuse yourself to console your crying toddler or escort them for the third time out the door while shouting for someone to please take the kid because you’re on a call.
Now that everyone’s realities have been exposed, there’s nothing to hide anymore. The wall of shame has been knocked down and professionals should feel much more confident and entitled to boundaries of when they should or should not be working.
Will Americans slow down and re-evaluate their priorities post-COVID?
Erin: How could they not? COVID has given us the gift of slowing down and re-evaluating our values.
What type of work lights me up? How can I re-organize my priorities to spend more quality time with my close friends and family once we’re all “back to normal” again? What do I want out of my career over the next few years?
I think a lot of corporate professionals are using this time to reflect and redefine what it means to be successful.
Stacie: I like to call this moment the great pause. We’ve all been going through the motions just to get through the next day, week, month, and year. By now business likely has slowed down as the pandemic continues.
This is the perfect time, forced or voluntary, to dig deep and reflect on how you want to carry your business. Personally, it’s been interesting to see how my personal values and business values need to align better.
Upside member Stacie Sussman is a leader in scaling SMEs and startups to grow their revenue through sales and marketing strategies that combine talent, tech automation, and operational tools to move at a very fast pace. As the Chief Technology Officer of SSR Digital Group, Stacie has built an impressive career managing over $35 million in digital partnerships for companies ranging from high-growth startups to Fortune 500 conglomerates.
Erin Halper is the founder and CEO of The Upside, a community of consultants and experts who network, collaborate and share knowledge for the advancement of everyone. Since launching The Upside in 2017, Erin has advised more than 1,000 professionals on how to redefine the 9-5 by building a respected consultancy practice that generates consistent clients and affords them the freedom of working when, where and how they want. In addition, The Upside has connected its members to hundreds of client, referral, podcast, press, panelist and speaking opportunities, helping members to position themselves as thought leaders and experts, as well as to generate premium clients.
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