Surviving in the post-Covid office: Making a case for scheduling everything

Ashley Whillans, a Harvard Business School professor thinks we could be at a turning point. “Now is the perfect time to set new rules, new routines, and new ways of working because we’re in this phase of habit disruption,” Whillans said.

 

Before the pandemic turned dining tables into desks, getting a midday haircut or heading out for 5 pm therapy involved a bit of clandestine choreography: clearing one’s schedule, finding a friend to cover, then slipping out while the boss was away.

That dance came to a halt in March 2020.Some began defining their own hours, sneaking in grocery runs, medical appointments and naps between job tasks. Others found those blocks of reclaimed time quickly filled by new responsibilities, like child care and nursing sick relatives. But the mere existence of such hours raised other questions: How scheduled should one be? And should relaxation have a place in the 9-to-5?Now that many are returning to offices, some are wondering: Where will all that time go now? And can I get it back?‘

Me’ Time on Company Time
Kaianne Sie-Mah, a 31-year-old design strategist in Washington, used to feel guilty taking time for herself during business hours. But when her office went remote in 2020, her perspective shifted. “The personal time we’re seeking, I think that’s akin to chatting near the coffee machine for an hour.” Now she’ll FaceTime friends during the day as a stand-in for casual socialisation.

Ashley Whillans, a Harvard Business School professor thinks we could be at a turning point. “Now is the perfect time to set new rules, new routines, and new ways of working because we’re in this phase of habit disruption,” Whillans said.

Whillans notes that now is the time to negotiate for time off and remote flexibility, just as one would negotiate for pay, benefits or job resources.


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