We are amidst a global event that has impacted everyone’s work and home life to some degree. While maintaining a perfect balance between work and personal life is difficult, it is not impossible. Whether you have kids at home and are trying to work around their daily schedules, or you are back at the office and trying to navigate the new normal, the COVID-19 pandemic has really transformed what it means to juggle a work-life balance. This may mean we need to change our perspective on how to work as a team, especially now that we are working remotely. In considering this article, I wanted to focus on three fundamental topics and how “safer at home” has changed the way we think about each.
Your employees’ careers are important to them, but so are their family relationships and commitments. Balancing work and home life is challenging at best and can even be frustrating at times. Managers should realize that employees may have distractions and obligations throughout their workday, but trusting that the work of the day will be completed is important. Establishing goals at the start of the week may help accomplish this. Managers will have to adjust their views of what a typical workday looks like. Teleconferences may include children crossing in the background, dogs barking or unforeseen “emergencies” that will require immediate attention.
- Understand that the work environment as we knew it has changed
Earlier this year the work environment changed and there are no signs that things will be back to “normal” anytime soon. In fact, it seems as though there will be an entirely new normal to which we will all have to adjust. Over the course of the past several months families have had to learn to work, study and make time for family – all under the same roof. Understanding that everyone’s personal home environment may look different than yours is helpful. Times certainly have changed and we can adjust. By better understanding the home environment and individual challenges, we can better manage productivity.
- Get Engaged, Stay Engaged
Through a better understanding of your staff’s home situation, you should be able to adjust your management style to align more with their home life. This does not mean that home life should drive work life, but it does mean that adjustments may need to be made. For instance, last-minute meetings may not be as easily pulled off as they used to be. Engagement should not be construed as micromanaging but instead viewed as an opportunity to ensure the team is focused on project goals. By realizing that 8-to-5 workdays may be a thing of the past, we can prepare ahead of time to ensure that the team has the necessary direction to complete their respective tasks.
Jeffrey L. Duplantis, MS, P.E., PMP, F.ASCE is a senior project manager with Constantine Engineering and has over 30 years’ experience in all aspects of civil design, project management and construction management, with an emphasis on the municipal market.
He is responsible for leading the business development for competitive wins and implementation of project delivery initiatives to ensure profitable client growth.
Jeff also is the chair of the ASCE Engineering Practice Policy Committee and serves as the Society of American Military Engineers South Central Regional vice president.