How Did COVID 19 Change Work-Life Balance for Americans?

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Are you wondering how did COVID 19 change work-life balance? We have lived in the COVID-19 world long enough to know the ways the disease has affected our work and personal life, but how have the rest of our fellow Americans workers fared? Are we all experiencing the same COVID 19 burden? Do some have it worse than others?

The answer is no and yes. Today, we’ll take an in-depth look into how the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) changed the work-life dynamic altogether.

How Did COVID 19 Change Work-Life Balance: By the General Numbers

COVID-19 brought forth the closure of countless offices and businesses, ushering in a new era of remote working for people around the world. This number includes millions of Americans. To give you an inside look into these figures, here’s what the researchers at Pew Research Center found out:

Over two-thirds of workers who say their responsibilities can be done at home, now work from home most or all of the time.

Workers belonging to this group either rarely or never worked remotely, and half of them say they would opt for this arrangement even if the pandemic ended. While the transition to remote work hasn’t exactly been seamless, it has been relatively easy for these individuals.

Most even found it more convenient because they had everything they needed to get things done, including an adequate workspace. Meeting deadlines and completing projects on time has also become easier. Employees get to work with minimal interruptions and find the motivation to work more often than not.

That said, not all those employed have the option to work remotely even in this pandemic. In fact, many say their responsibilities can only be accomplished in the workplace.

This shows an obvious class divide between those who can and cannot work remotely. All in all, three-fifths of employed adults who finished a four-year college degree say their job responsibilities can be done from home.

In comparison, only a little over a fifth of those without a bachelor’s degree say they can do their jobs remotely. Similarly, most upper-income employees can do their job from home, but those in the lower- to upper-income bracket cannot.

Eight out of 10 of those not working from home all the time say they experience in-person interaction with others at the workplace.

A little over half say they interact with others in-person a lot. Also, at least half of this group say they are concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus disease from their co-workers or unintentionally exposing others to it.

Even then, they are mostly satisfied with the steps their respective workplaces have taken to safeguard them from the virus.

Six in 10 employed adults say they are as satisfied with their jobs during COVID-19 as they were before it.

Whether working from home or in an office, there has been no significant shift in work culture for most employed adults. Not only do they claim they are as happy with their jobs during the COVID-19 crisis as they were before it; they also say their job security and productivity remain the same.

Some employees even share that they perform as well as they did before, and their opportunities for advancement remain the same. 

Parents who work from home have a hard time juggling their job with family responsibilities.

Some parents with minor children and who work from home most or all of the time say getting the job done without interruptions has been almost impossible since the outbreak. By contrast, only a fifth of those who don’t have kids experience the same. Fathers also found the situation as difficult to handle as mothers.

work from home, a lady with computer at home

Video Conferencing Numbers

Teleworkers have been relying a lot on video conferencing services to communicate with co-workers. What’s more, there has been no sign of extensive fatigue from using these tools so far.

Let’s take a look at the figures associated with the use of video communication software amid the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Eight out of 10 adults say they use either Webex or Zoom some of the time, while six out of 10 claim to use it often.
  • Close to 60 percent use IM platforms like Google Chat and Slack some of the time. In comparison, a little above 40 percent use them a lot of the time.
  • 6.3 out of 10 adult employees using video conferencing software say they spend most of their time on video calls. Sadly, nearly 40 percent of them say they are worn out by video calling.
  • 6.5 in 10 remote workers consider IM platforms a great substitute for in-person collaboration, while the remaining 3.5 don’t.

Numbers by Diversity

Coronavirus concerns differ depending on race, gender, and ethnicity among employed adults who don’t work remotely all the time. The same is true for workers who often interact with at least a limited number of people at their workplace.

Let’s go over the figures:

  • Six out of 10 women are more concerned about getting the virus as opposed to only four in 10 men.
  • Seven out of 10 Black workers and 6.7 in 10 Hispanic workers are concerned about exposure compared to only 4.8 in 10 of White workers.
  • Black and Hispanic workers are a lot less likely to be satisfied than their White co-workers about workplace measures set to safeguard employees from COVID-19 exposure.

Positive Figures

Workers who rarely or never worked at home pre-pandemic but now do also found that the shift to telework had some clear upsides. These numbers say it all:

  • Close to half of workers are happy about their more flexible work hours.
  • In contrast, only 1.4 in 10 of those who worked remotely pre-pandemic felt the same about their work’s flexibility.
  • Almost four out of 10 digital workers found it easier to balance job responsibilities with family responsibilities. This is in comparison to only 10 percent from adult employees working from home before the pandemic.

On the flipside, 6.5 in 10 employees who are now teleworking but rarely or never did before say they experienced a loss of connection with their co-workers. Of the seasoned digital workers, only 27 percent felt this way.

How To Maintain Work-Life Balance in the COVID-19 World

So, how did COVID-19 change work-life balance? From parenting and socializing to running errands and working, the COVID-19 crisis has altered the way people live their lives significantly.

For many of us, the public health crisis meant an abrupt thrust into remote working situations to adhere to social distancing restrictions. Although working from home has its benefits, transitioning into it and finding the balance between your private life and family life can be difficult.

If COVID-19 has taken its toll on you physically and mentally, here are some ways to better manage your at-home workspace for a more balanced work-life dynamic:

  • Managing expectations: When creating balance, it’s important to manage expectations and give yourself understanding and forgiveness.
  • Creating a dedicated workspace: Since you have a dedicated workspace at work in the form of an office, coworking area, or cubicle, you should also have one at home. This space should hold all the necessary devices and equipment for completing your everyday tasks.
  • Taking regular breaks: Scheduling regular breaks throughout the day and following through with them helps ensure you don’t work yourself to exhaustion.
  • Establishing transition times: Create cues to know when it’s time to start and stop working. For instance, you might want to mimic a commute before you get started.
  • Establishing routines: Establishing a routine that best suits your situation is key whether you’re living alone, with roommates, or taking care of kids. Just remember that things sometimes won’t go according to plan, and that’s fine.
  • Communicating your needs: Be upfront with your loved ones about what’s going on and be respectful of their roles. This goes for the people you work with, too.
  • Being kind to yourself: Make sure to carve out some “me-time” to help prevent burnout, especially when you start thinking you have no more time for self-care. 

Working During the Pandemic

These figures show a general picture of how the workforce scene is after the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic. From these numbers, it won’t be surprising to experience a shift in how several segments of the workforce operate in the near future.

COVID-19 Work-Life Balance FAQs

1. Why is work-life balance important during COVID-19?

With the abrupt merging of work and home life, people now find themselves struggling to balance these two very different aspects of their lives. It’s actually important that you do, as treating your home solely as your workplace and working excessive hours can lead to the following, among many other negative effects:

  • High levels of anxiety and irritation
  • Screen fatigue
  • Reduced productivity
  • An unhappy life

2. How do you define your home office now that you’re mostly working from home?

It’s time to remove that “temporary” sign from the door because this pandemic looks like it will last for quite some time. On that note, you want your office space to induce creativity and bring energy. You want it to be your own space.

To do that, you may want to start by not sharing that space with your housemates while you’re working. Your space should be as distraction-free as possible.

3. Will working from home all the time impact my personal growth?

It can if you don’t check yourself enough. Social distancing restrictions may be keeping you from spending time outside as much as you would want to. However, there are other activities you can do at home to balance your work and personal life. Some of these include writing in your journal, reading a book, or even meditating.

4. How do I replicate my work life pre-pandemic at home?

We get it. You associate your humble abode with reading, watching television, using social media, or studying. You missed how you used to work, and it’s taking a longer time for your current arrangement to translate to success. That could be because you’re holding on to what used to work for you.

Perhaps it’s time to let that go like you have other pre-pandemic routines and structures. Instead, create a new routine that allows you to work more effectively remotely.

5. What are great ways to use my non-working time at home during COVID-19?

After establishing work from personal time, put good thought into how you would want to spend the latter. Connecting with friends and family, spending time outdoors, going for a drive, and exercising are some of the best ways to keep your body and mind healthy and active.

Uday Tank is a serial entrepreneur and content marketing leader. He has a wide variety of interests and enjoys writing, including marketing, productivity, business, health, diversity, and management.