A few years ago, it seemed that everything was about “the hustle” and “the grind”— the notion that overloading oneself with work was somehow a testimony to one’s success. Some of the unlikely byproducts of the pandemic, for those who had the privilege of working from home (WFH), is a more flexible work schedule and a more holistic approach to work-life balance.
Flexibility and Working Asynchronously
Despite the suddenness of the pandemic, the radical shift to a digital workplace has been a wakeup call for many people whose lives once hinged on the hustle and grind mentality. Do we all have to be in the same place at the same time? Is a 9-5 work day the best use of time? How do I want my schedule to look?
In a recent article from the Harvard Business Review, aptly titled Breaking Free From a 9-5 Culture, executive coach Rebecca Zucker breaks down the shift toward “asynchronous” work models. She reasons that a team doesn’t have to be working together in the same workplace at the same time to be productive. Deciding what work needs to be done as a team, versus what is best accomplished independently is different for every business. Holding yourself and your business accountable to change can have a positive impact on the digital workplace.
Deloitte, for example, has recently ditched the 9-5 in favour of a more flexible work schedule. The 2020 Global Human Capital Trends report (check out this cute video!) suggests that, with the right mix of technology, businesses can actually enhance human connectivity in our workplaces. With a balance of online and in-person work, Deloitte recommends a list of wellbeing initiatives for workplaces, including accessible WFH technology, flexible work hours, and mindfulness practices with meditation rooms and walking meetings.
Shifting into a WFH model has given many Canadians a sense of agency in their careers. Now, a third of Canadians would consider seeking a new job if they were asked to return to the workplace. When the option to return to in-office work models is back on the table, businesses will be presented with the opportunity to curate their own work models to optimize their business operations. Could a COVID induced work-from-home model give way to the future of a “work from anywhere” model? This is a great time to take a cue from Deloitte and ask: “How do we avoid going back to what we had before?”
Working from Home with Muse
In the early days of the pandemic, Muse shifted from our workplace at The Cotton Factory to a work-from-home model. Since then, we’ve experienced lots of change with new team members, new technologies and new approaches to work. Fortunately, we were equipped with the right tools and technologies to make an easy transition to remote work. Here’s how our experience has impacted our team!
What did remote work do for Muse?
Mark: We were fortunate to have the tools and protocols already in place, which made WFH an almost seamless transition. Productivity didn’t suffer. Over time though, reduced human contact has definitely taken a toll on all of us, affecting morale. We are really looking forward to getting back to the office. We are also using this opportunity to reinvigorate our space, make it more inspiring, and introduce changes that better suit our new outlook on what having an office outside of home really means.
Brandin: Thankfully, the work that we do is easily accomplished remotely because we work with computers and software to do almost everything. The impact of being able to perform a task hasn’t really been hampered. That said, remote work has other implications. Because we are no longer together physically it feels like a lot of the inspiration and energy we use to power our work is limited. It’s been a tough go, but we have managed to slug through it and find time to connect, but it just isn’t the same over Zoom. However, the challenges we have faced have strengthened our resolve, sharpened our work ethic and will ultimately have a positive impact on our journey forward.
Simon: I honestly think remote work has done a lot of good for Muse. We’ve been forced to correct a lot of our processes that, while maybe not being bad outright, just didn’t function when we went remote. This led us to prioritize who is in certain meetings, when and how many meetings we have in a day, and making emails less of a communication tool for small things by adopting the use of Slack for internal messaging. I honestly think that’s done a lot to make us more efficient and clearer communicators within our team. When you can’t just tap someone on the shoulder all the time, you’re forced to organize your thoughts and consider the best way to communicate with someone.
What will the return of in-person work mean? What flexibility will remain? How are we making in-person work better than before? Will we use a hybrid approach?
Judy: While working from home has its perks, I am really looking forward to returning to our office. I look forward to leaving my house in the morning, connecting with the team, clients and colleagues at the Cotton Factory, and then returning home at the end of the workday. One of the downsides of a home office is that it’s far too close, and thus, far too easy to work all the time. I need the separation of work and home life. We are in the process of reimagining our office at the Cotton Factory to ensure that safety protocols are in place, but also to inspire our team. The world is a different place compared to that day in March 2020 when we packed up our computers and locked the door. When the doors open again (whenever that might be!) I’d like the Muses to feel happy, safe and energized in their new surroundings. Muse supports a “family comes first, work-life balance” approach. The logical extension of that approach is the flexibility of each individual to decide where that “work” happens.
Mark: These are great questions that require further conversation with our team. We will definitely be providing flexibility going forward. And we’ll definitely be organizing our planning and brainstorming/creative sessions around in-person, not remote. Some things are better off taking place in the physical world.
Clara: As someone who has only stepped into the workplace once, I can attest that working remotely was a big adjustment specifically for getting to know my team at Muse. I’m excited about the prospect of returning to the workplace and to finally be physically present and having more engaging conversations that don’t require a Zoom call or a Slack message. I’m also excited about the hybrid approach Muse is taking. Like many other menstruators out there, I can get super lethargic and even develop migraines during that time of the month. Having the opportunity to work comfortably in my own home is such a blessing and a privilege and I believe it will help us all to work our best in the environment that suits us – no matter the day.
Olivia: The normalization of a work-from-home model has given me the chance to join the Muse team all the way from Toronto. Having known the Muse family personally for many years (and some for my whole life!) it’s been fantastic to finally get to know them professionally, as well. I’ve been grateful for the opportunity to work from home and, going forward, I’m fortunate to be able to balance my graduate studies with Muse-work in a model that will be flexible and productive for me.