Workplace culture is shifting – Ask for what you need, find where you fit.
How to capitalize on job flexibility and make the new workplace work for you.
So many employees and employers alike are experiencing workplace burnout. If you weren’t burnt out before the pandemic, you’re surely feeling it now. The pandemic took an already prevalent problem and compounded it. Piling on outside stressors, new workplace protocols, and haphazard workflow restructuring to make remote work possible.
But let us ask the question that’s now on our minds… Was it all bad? Sure, no one is saying, “Oh yeah, let’s do that again.” But since we all went through it, what can we take away from that time to create a true sense of work-life balance that never could have existed in a pre-pandemic society?
Many of us realized that not having an hour-long commute allows you to show up better at work and at home. That working from home affords you the freedom to get the kids off the bus. Or that the 9 to 5 lifestyle isn’t the norm you’re looking to go back to.
Whatever your why, you may be feeling the itch to leave your current job for one that better fits your new ideals. But we’ve got another option for you.
Rather than functioning under the guise that your current position no longer fits your needs – and throwing yourself into a huge career-change transition – we want to give you the tools to first decide whether your current position could, in fact, still be the dream job.
We’ve got tips and tricks to redesign an existing position so it works for you. With key takeaways for both the employee and the employer.
In the ever-changing workplace, we must change with it to not be left behind. Let’s dig in.
Decide what you actually want.
It’s easy to say your current job doesn’t fit your needs. But a lot of the time we don’t actually stop to ask ourselves what those needs are. We know something feels off but we’re not sure what, why, or how to get it. First, be honest with yourself. Then, with clarity, move forward.
What kind of employee are you now?
There is a way to make work, work for you. Knowing your answer to these questions is the first step.
How much time do you want to dedicate to work? There is no wrong answer, but you do need to know. It is also okay for this to change, or have already changed, from what you used to want. Different life stages oftentimes affect what you’re willing and able to give to your job. It’s important not to shame yourself for needing something different than you once did.
How much time do you want to dedicate outside of work? This is an important counterpart to the above. What work-family balance (or work-social balance) do you want and need? Acknowledging that you’re in a season of growth at work and you’re dedicated to that, and not to free time or social engagements, is important to know. Acknowledging that your priorities lay in what is outside of your job – whether this has always been the case, or is new for you – is important to know.
How you answer these questions ultimately determines how you show up both for work and at home. These priorities already shape how you work and how you play. But oftentimes it’s in the form of guilt and overwhelm if you’re not clear on what’s driving you. Knowing what’s important to you and shaping your work and life around these priorities gives you a lot more peace of mind. It allows you to show up at your best.
What does work-life balance mean to you? What is your day-to-day ideal?
Flexibility is a whole lot more than just working from home. Everyone needs flexibility at some point in their career. And the need for it changes depending on life events, personal goals, and an array of other factors. Don’t be afraid to need it. But know what it means to you.
What does flexibility mean? 4-day workweeks instead of five, flexible deadlines, working from home 2 days a week, working from home 5 days a week, working in the office but choosing when you come in and when you leave? Or do you prefer the structure of a 9 to 5, and a set schedule gives you more flexibility outside of work? The list and options are endless. But you cannot build a work-life you love if you do not know what you need from it. Own your expectations.
Communication is your best asset. Effective communication is key when working on a flexible schedule. Being transparent and honest about when you’re working – and how to reach you when you’re not – is vital to maintaining trust with your employer, your employees, and your colleagues. Set boundaries. But first, sit down with your team to establish protocols that will yield the most effective returns for everyone.
Propose Changes to Your Job Structure
Ask yourself. What is the best use of your skills? Is your current position utilizing those skills? Could it be restructured to do so? Here are some ways this may be possible.
Automation – Automate your current duties that aren’t serving your skills or are just a total time-suck. When you’re new to any position you’re trained in how they “have been doing it.” And since that’s how you learned, that’s how you continue. But most workplaces are functioning within an antiquated workflow. With the advance in technology, there oftentimes is automation or tools that can be put in place to take something off of your plate, or to help your day-to-day tasks run smoother.
Restructure. If your workload is too high, be honest. Meet with your boss or HR rep and ask for help. Explain where your skills would be put to the best use and where you could use some assistance. Whether it’s from a new hire, from allocating some of your day-to-day duties elsewhere, or from automation. Make arrangements that make the best use of your skills and allow you to be the most productive. Ensure any changes suit everyone and contribute to the workplace, rather than take away from it.
These changes can benefit both the employee and the employer. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need.
As an employer ask – Are we making the best of the person who’s in this position? How can I respond to the ever-changing workplace to give my employees what they need to work effectively in the long term?
As an employee ask – What skills can I improve upon to work more efficiently? How can I make my current position fit my needs? Or refine my skills to move within the company to a position that does fit my needs?
There’s a workplace culture shift taking place and we cannot turn a blind eye to it. Yes, it brings about challenges for employees and employers alike. But it also brings in opportunities for positive and lasting change. Job satisfaction positively impacts longevity, staff loyalty, and company value. It is both the responsibility of the employee and the employer to work together to increase job satisfaction and to move the workplace forward into the post-pandemic era.