When the pandemic this spring prompted the closure of “nonessential businesses,” tens of millions of us had to quickly set up makeshift home offices and grapple with the competing and overlapping demands of work and family responsibilities. In short order, the boundaries between work and home life were obliterated. As weeks have turned into months, planned returns to work have been postponed, the duration of this crisis remains uncertain, and the stress and strain grows.
As executive coaches and leadership experts, we hear daily from leaders about these daunting demands. Interestingly, in the first weeks of this work-at-home shift, many leaders told us that they were grateful for one silver lining: no more commute. What a boon to be able to get right to the extra challenges and longer hours needed to help themselves, their teams, and their businesses navigate through this challenging period.
Months later, however, the tune of many employees has changed. Many are feeling burnt out by day’s end. And here’s the rub: when their umpteenth email has been sent, their back-to-back-to-back Zoom meetings have finally ended, and their laptop has been powered down, their “commute” is now a matter of seconds. In a few strides, they move from their workspace to become a full-time spouse, partner, caregiver, and/or parent. The abrupt daily transitions from valued executive or employee to on-call resource for anything and everything at home, and then back to work again, can be jarring.