March 16, 2023

Third Thursday Thoughts, Special Edition

The Lost Weekends – Three Years Later

Third Thursday Thoughts, Special Edition

Before the pandemic, only 6% of the workforce primarily worked from home full time with a small percentage of workers who occasionally telecommuted. Starting in March 2020, unless your business was “essential”, you quickly learned to work from home.

With the many benefits of working from home there were many detriments, as well.  There was no longer a “pause” button; the days started in PJs, checking emails as we walked by our office station, whether it be in the bedroom, living room, dining room, kitchen or if you were lucky, that spare room for guests that were not going to visit for a while. Maybe you would quickly shower after you get the kids up and online and eventually out of the house for school and go right back to work since the commute is only 30 seconds. Lunches became a jog to the kitchen, put together quickly and carried back to your workstation where you mindlessly went through some emails as you ate. You worked later; no more commute, so why not? Your phone buzzed way past dinner time with requests for meetings and information either that night “after the kids are in bed” or just to alert you that the meeting tomorrow was now a Zoom meeting.

For us, clients were booking Zoom meetings with potential candidates on the weekend before their day got started, or at the end of Sunday when things seemed to calm down. Weeks were more overloaded than ever. Of course, the weekend work was “contagious” because candidates and clients spoke with us before and after their meetings, as well. Certainly, staffing was not the only industry experiencing this. It seemed as though every business went the extra 9 yards to be available and make sure their clients knew that they were available on a whim so as not to lose them to the competition.

Now fast forwarding to today, we’re seeing all types of work schedules – full time in office, hybrid and the rare 100% remote.  Many candidates being sourced for new positions want to work from home full time or on a hybrid schedule, but we still hear the occasional “please tell me this is on site, I need to be in an office”. Perhaps there is the hope that once they leave the physical office, they truly leave work there and can have quality time back with family, friends or just for themselves? What we are hearing, and experiencing is that there is still no “pause” button; there is a commute home or to the gym and a quick dinner then back on the computer to finish up “some things”. Sick days seem to have disappeared, and vacation packing essentials include the laptop and charger. Is there still a fear of not being available? Is the shrinking work force or the lack of hiring to replace those who have left causing an overload of work for those who remain? Are boundaries between work and home life, forever blurred?

Visibly there is an uptick in “self-care” advertisements and articles. Will “self-care” become a short cut to recharge and get back to work? If we “self-care”, can we be re-energized and able to do even more?

Perhaps in addition to “self-care” it is time to hit the weekend pause button (at a minimum) and maybe extend it to a couple of nights “outside of normal working hours”. It is time to put boundaries back up and carve out that downtime with the goal to accomplish more in the long run by delaying or maybe even preventing burnout. Isn’t Monday soon enough to discuss the “pressing matter”? Having the right size staff may help redefine those boundaries. Employees are assets but you do not want them to depreciate over time; perhaps investing in an employee or employees can help distribute the extra workload and prevent burnout, quiet quitting, quitting or early retirement and thereby increase your ROI and prevent the loss of the employees you have invested in.

Marcum Search takes a consultative approach to your staffing needs and can offer suggestions and solutions for augmenting your staff, whether through direct hire, temporary employees or consultants to help alleviate the workload and safeguard your tenured employees.