Opinion: The “new normal” work culture may have evolved for the better

I am an office employee, and if the lockdown has taught me anything, it would be that I need to make an effort to have better work-life balance. To set boundaries at work and have fun during the day while working.

Before the pandemic, our daily routine would be getting up early and leaving some time to commute to work. Then you’d be present at the office all day, with an hour break, pretending to be busy even if some days are a little slower than the others. Leaving the office at the exact time that you’re allowed to leave, and commute back home.

Your day always feels like a race.

And then some days if you’re still full of energy after work, you meet up with your friends for dinner. But most of the time you just want to go home, because you’re too tired for anything now but your bed.

We lived our lives like that for as long as we could remember and we thought it was normal. It only took the WFH policy for me to realise that it shouldn’t be the way human beings live.

With WFH, I normally get up half an hour before our first morning call, and still would be able to have a functioning meeting if not better because I didn’t just have to spend a large chunk of my day commuting.

In the afternoon, I might pop out for a coffee with a friend, bringing our laptop with me, and working while doing something fun during the day. I might want to take an afternoon nap for half an hour after lunch, but there’s something that I need to finish before tomorrow, so after dinner, I put Netflix on, sit on my couch with my laptop, and work until I go to bed. 

This style of work provides me with a better, healthier work-life balance during my day. Personally, to me, it makes me less stressed, less “trapped”, and I think I perform better in this kind of environment. I take my time on the things that I can afford to take time with, and am available for whatever urgent things that might pop up. Though I might not always be sitting at my desk, I am always 100% contactable during working hours.

Just because I am not in the office, doesn’t mean I am not performing my best, or wanting the best for the company.

But the capitalist culture is not happy about this kind of mindset. They need you to devote your life to your work. Most upper management are not happy that the staff might take some time to breathe during the day. They make you feel like you’re slacking off if you’re not performing over your capacity.

But what they don’t know is that for many of us, there is no going back to the old reality. This is the new normal.

If I need to spend 6-8 hours a day, 5 days a week working to be able to just exist in this world—and that’s already more than half of my life—I’ll make sure to enjoy it without suffering or hurting myself.

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