Coronavirus Has Employees Rethinking Work Schedules and Careers

Many employees find ‘windowed work’ has helped them manage their work/life balance.

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, many employees with no experience working remotely have had to adapt to doing so. In addition, some employees are balancing working from home with child care, schooling or other responsibilities.

A survey of more than 2,000 Americans who typically work in offices but now work from home finds some are having a problem with work/life balance. According to the survey by JDP, a firm that does employee screening, more than half (54%) reported there are more distractions while working from home than working in the office. One-third reported working more than usual while working from home, with difficulty keeping boundaries between work and personal life cited as the main reason.

A survey by staffing firm Robert Half found breaking up their day into distinct chunks of business and personal time has helped many employees manage work/life balance. Nearly four out of five professionals surveyed (79%) said their job allows for what Robert Half calls “windowed work.” Of those, 73% reported the arrangement makes them more productive.

A greater percentage of respondents with children (78%) than those without (66%) said windowed work allows them to be more productive. Nearly an equal number of men (75%) and women (71%) said they get more done when integrating personal and professional activities throughout the day. More employees ages 55 and older (39%) noted they prefer a traditional schedule rather than windowed work than those ages 41 to 54 (32%) and 25 to 40 (22%).

Robert Half says employees should consider when they feel most productive and how to cluster similar tasks together when setting times for their work windows. And employees should let colleagues know when they are accessible.

In a separate survey, Robert Half found that, during the coronavirus crisis, many employees are rethinking what’s most important when it comes to their career. More than half of office professionals surveyed (57%) said they have experienced a shift in their feelings toward work due to the pandemic. Among those, 60% indicated they are more motivated to be employed at an organization that values its staff during unpredictable times, 40% reported they will prioritize their personal life over their job moving forward and 33% said they want to pursue a more meaningful or fulfilling position.

Paul McDonald, senior executive director of Robert Half, says, “Purpose is at the forefront of everyone’s mind right now, and professionals are assessing whether their company’s values align with their own.” He suggests employers take the opportunity to reinforce for their teams the organization’s mission and community involvement and continue to be flexible and responsive to employees’ needs.