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Work-Life Blending: In the Age of Covid-19

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Everyone is being affected by the Covid-19 crisis in different ways. We are finding our way in what is being labeled “the new normal.” Even the word “essential” is taking on new meaning. Work is being re-imagined, how that work is getting done is being adapted, where it must be accomplished is being rethought and when it must be completed is finally being loosened. The on-site nine-to-five job is quickly becoming less “normal.” Companies are seeing just how flexible they can be with remote, virtual and on-demand employees or contractors. The next frontier will be a realistic and achievable work-life blend.

Work and life will almost always be out of balance. Sometimes one must move to the front of your priority list, while the other takes a temporary backseat.

I prefer to use the phrase “work-life blending.” I do that because I believe the other version, “work-life balance”, is an impossible standard to set. I would rather strive to find a comfortable blend, than hold myself accountable to 50/50 balance between the two. Work and life will almost always be out of balance. Sometimes one must move to the front of your priority list, while the other takes a temporary backseat. Just be aware of it and consciously make those decisions. Another aspect of blending that I find better than balancing is that of my many different life roles.

What do I mean by that?

Here’s a list of the roles I play on any given day (in no particular order):

  1. Dad
  2. Husband
  3. Friend
  4. Son
  5. Manager
  6. Employee
  7. Partner
  8. Coach
  9. Mentor
  10. Human

Balancing those is an impossible task. Blending them is only a matter of recognizing which one you are at any moment and making time for each of them whenever possible. They each find themselves at a different level of priority depending on the day of the week, the time of day or something as fleeting as your mood. I identify as a blend of those roles and making sure I don’t lose part of my identity is an important part to my mental health. Speaking of mental health, the times we’re in require extra special attention to it. All those roles listed above are occurring in the same environment for the first time in a long time.

Not to mention the circumstances have added another role to my blended identity. Teacher. I have been heavily involved in my son’s life since day one. As a work-from-home contractor since before he was born, morphing into a stay-at-home dad for a little while and most recently, the primary parent for the wake-up, drop-off and pick-up of a kindergartener. My wife is an amazing human, a great mother and the primary earner of karma in our household. I have taken on the other role due to my more flexible work environment at Connect. It has really allowed my family to have a blended and achievable work-life blend.

In the “age of Covid-19,” my ability to blend work and life has become less of a luxury, but more of a necessity.  I am now the primary provider of the homeschooling that is now a requirement for my son to progress to the 1st grade. We are in the middle of April, and all the indicators are pointing toward the stay-at-home orders extending until the end of the school year. My wife and I are both working from home full time, and my son’s schoolwork requires my full attention. We have created our co-working office in my guest room. I have a full-sized Ikea desk and office chair, while my son has a miniature Swedish version of the same set up. We sit adjacent to one another and work on our respective assignments. If it weren’t so difficult and distracting, it would be adorable.

At home co-work desk I share with my son

He has about 2-3 hours of active work each day. Online apps for math, science, reading and language arts. Each day also has a “special project” he must work on. Some days it is Spanish, which includes 80’s era videos to watch, worksheets for us to complete and vocabulary words for us to practice. Other days are his enrichment classes, like technology, dance, music, art, PE or drama. Almost everything he is assigned requires a parent to supervise or administer. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE that my son’s school provides a homeschooling plan that includes all these well-rounded activities. Unfortunately, my other responsibilities and those who depend on me have not disappeared.

“…we continue to communicate with our membership, and innovate ways to stay connected to our community of collaborative business professionals.”

Connect Bradenton is something I believe in. The team we have put together has been a driving force behind its recent success. This crisis has been more than a bump in the road. It has almost erased a year’s worth of progress. We continue to be there for the other “essential businesses” to support them in any way we can. Our executive suite and reserve workstation members have continued to utilize their offices and desks as needed. The virtual office members are still receiving mail, and regularly pick it up. We have even had meeting room reservations (albeit fewer than usual, and with more social distancing concerns). However, the activity in our shared workspaces and co-working areas has come to a screeching halt.

None of this is a surprise. That is why we continue to communicate with our membership, and innovate ways to stay connected to our “community of collaborative business professionals.” Whether that is a weekly virtual networking call, an active search for online content for us to share on our partners’ behalf, a live broadcast spotlighting local businesses or just staying engaged with those who can use a little help during a trying time.

Working on a podcast with Pat & Tracy

I haven’t even really addressed the other roles that I am tasked with “blending” every day. Let me take a moment to do that:

Husband – My wife is amazing! We are a team. She always finds time to “tag-in” to help with my son’s schoolwork, or just give me a break when she sees I obviously need one.

Friend – This is the one thing I need to find more time to blend into the “new normal.” I guess I should organize a virtual happy hour Zoom call soon.

Son – I have scheduled two video chats since this all began. One for my dad and one for my mom. I know I could do better, and I shall do my best. However, those calls tend to be overtaken by the five-year-old. He does have A LOT to say.

Manager – I miss my daily in-person interactions with the Connect Team. Undine and Patrick, I can’t wait to see what the future has for us! I appreciate you both more than I can express.

Employee – Our new corporate partners have supported us all the way. The lines of communication have been consistent and open, and their trust in my leadership has been extremely appreciated.

Partner – To all those who continue to partner with Connect, thank you.

Coach – We should be four weeks into the YMCA Youth Soccer season. I was really looking forward to leading my team. I miss it more than I thought I would.

Human – The news and social media have been overwhelming. I don’t want to lose my humanity. I won’t lose my humanity. I look forward to more human interaction. This extrovert needs some real social interaction.

I appreciate the privilege of having all these roles in my life. I love being “essential.” I love having a career that allows for a flexible schedule. I love my family. I just struggle balancing them. I guess that is why I appreciate the idea of work-life blending that much more.

We’ll see you soon! In the meantime, let us know how Connect Bradenton can help you work the way you want. And while you’re at it, let us know how we can help you live the way you want too.

With Undine at Connect

Additional resources:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/alankohll/2018/03/27/the-evolving-definition-of-work-life-balance/#3cf699949ed3

https://medium.com/taking-note/forget-work-life-balance-its-all-about-the-blend-ad3115ed1fa4

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