What COVID taught us about technology’s impact on work-life balance

The pandemic changed the way we live and work drastically. There are a few trends I’d like to see continue.

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Remote work is a game changer

We all knew the commute was killing our day but wow a lot more can be accomplished with out 1-2 hours wasted driving every day. Beyond that families are closer, more integrated and happier when they spend time together. Several studies over the past few months show productivity while working remotely from home is better than working in an office setting. On average, those who work from home spend 10 minutes less a day being unproductive, work one more day a week, and are 47% more productive. Bloomberg recently stated that work from home will lift productivity 5% in a post-pandemic US. In an Owl Labs study, full-time remote workers said they’re happy in their job 22% more than people never working remotely. While many workplaces had to hustle to get tools in place to support remote workers, CacheFly has always been remote, so we go to sit back and enjoy the rest of the world joining us on our playing field. We already knew we love this lifestyle but we didn’t know just how much WFH culture would change when everyone was doing it. Expectations have relaxed substantially, and I don’t think lowering the bar on what “professionalism” means in regards to interruptions or availability has damaged the bottom line at all.

Flexjobs lists the following as the top 10 benefits of working from home:

  • Better Work-Life Balance
  • Less Commute Stress
  • Location Independence
  • Improved Inclusivity
  • Money Savings
  • Positive Environmental Impact
  • Impact on Sustainability
  • Customizable Office
  • Increased Productivity and Performance
  • Happier, Healthier Work Life

Exchanging most of your life for a paycheck is no bueno

There’s been a lot of talk recently about how people “don’t want to work” but in reality people don’t want to trade their whole life for a paycheck. Most people value contributing to an organization and society as a whole but yes those who spent the better part of 2020 spending more time on their family and less on “the grind” learned valuable lessons. We only get 18 summers with our kids. Most situations at work can wait. Tell your colleagues to hold on a sec when your kid bursts into your “home office” aka quiet corner of your bedroom to show you their latest artwork. Many workers have recognized their own value in the wake of COVID. It’s not worth punching a time clock 40+ hours a week to just squeak by. There’s been an increase in consulting, and in “side hustle” type revenue generators that free workers from the limitations of a typical 9-5 while giving them financial independence. As society shifts more changes are expected. We may see a continued decrease in 4 year college attendance and more e-learning as well as more independent businesses popping up to replace the old brick and mortar model.

The line is blurry

I used to think my home life ended where work began. I’ve been lucky to work remotely for the last 5 years, and CacheFly is a 100% remote work environment and yet I still was stuck on this idea that home and work were 2 separate things. But they aren’t. They are more connected than I ever saw before. At first, the shock to my system had me thinking things like “wow it’s really unprofessional to keep getting interrupted”. It’s not. Most of us have kids. All of us have lives. Many of us have dogs (or other pets). We all have priorities that shift and change near daily. We’re people, not robots. Sometimes I eat on a call. Sometimes my kid sits on my lap while I nurse a booboo and review the SEO on our website. Surprise: I’m no less productive. In fact, when work and life are balanced, when they feel connected, when your coworkers know your kids names… everybody is actually more productive. I’ve been in sales for 15 years and somehow I didn’t connect the dots. People buy on emotion, but they also work on emotion. Putting names and faces to the families our business feeds makes me so much more passionate about what I do.

Mobility is key

Can we just talk about how improved data connectivity and internet penetration rates have made it possible to work from just about anywhere? Some jobs require physical presence. I wouldn’t want my surgeon operating on me from some remote corner of the world, but for most of us, it doesn’t matter one way or another if I work from the desk in my home office, Starbucks, a hotel or my RV. As long as I get my work done and help the company succeed I can work from anywhere. That translates to so many more adventures with my kids. It means I get to see more of the world. CacheFly is continuing to work on stretching into even more emerging markets so “work from anywhere” will really mean anywhere.

The world is your oyster

COVID forced us to challenge our preconceived notions of what life looks like. Maybe you found yourself homeschooling from the first time during a pandemic, got to work remotely, or had to switch careers. If you’re reading this, you made it. It’s ok to let go of that breath you’ve been holding in. Maybe relax your shoulders a bit. You survived. Pat yourself on the back. This world is vast, and there is so much opportunity. We are all connected and I hope we will continue to grow more connected as we settle back into our routines and the digital migration starts to ebb. This week I’ve been on zoom with people in Mozambique, Russia, Croatia, California, Brazil, and Hong Kong. I love a lot of things about my job, but getting to know people all over the world with diverse backgrounds is up there amongst my favorite. Beyond that I love that we are contributing to bringing people together with technology. Imagine what the pandemic would have looked like in a world before the internet. How would I have got my groceries?!

E-Learning works better for some families

Many families struggled to school their kids at home. For others, it was a magical solution they may not have known they needed. At home parents have the ability to limit distractions, give 1:1 help, protect their kids from bullying, school when their kids are the most productive or calmest etc. And with remote learning they didn’t have to build their own curriculum. Kids got to follow along at their own pace without any shame around taking longer or getting done faster than their peers. Some missed the social aspect but others found it easier to focus at home or were happy to escape bullying.

We can adapt to make change when we’re motivated

A lot of the changes I covered here were changes some people were begging us for. Disabled people have been advocating for years that remote work is more inclusive and enabling. Kids who’ve been bullied begged to be able to virtual school. Climate scientists asked us to drive less, to change our behavior, to be greener. When we were all scared we’d catch a virus that could kill us we quickly changed our behavior. I hope those who find this new way of life easier, more pleasant, more inclusive etc continue to advocate to keep the changes that empower them, and that we don’t forget all the lessons we have learned.

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