On the one year anniversary of COVID-19, it is totally appropriate to mourn what we’ve lost, but also to take a moment and reflect on what we’ve learned. While each of our circumstances have varied to staggering degrees, I’d like to propose that the biggest surprise has been the end of the nine-to-five. The nine-to-five! The long standing tradition of a five day workweek is no longer a thing – according to Salesforce that is.
Let’s say that Salesforce is indeed on to something, being that they employ over 49,000 employees, maybe they know a thing or two. What could our new schedules look like? And who will they benefit the most?
I worked a nine-to-five for 14 years and for the most part was satisfied with the consistency of steady employment and bi-weekly paycheck. Was it my dream job? No. But it was consistent. Also, I considered other perks when I asked myself that question. I loved the people I worked with. I loved living in San Francisco and working in the Financial District. I loved the coffee shop down the street, the bartender up the road, and the overpriced salads at lunch — it was the devil I knew.
What I didn’t have when I worked a nine-to-five was a family. I didn’t need to drive a family-sized vehicle, or go to big box stores like Costco and I only visited Target begrudgingly. I didn’t need to pick up or drop off at a preschool that is only tentatively open. I didn’t need to register my soon-to-be kindergartener into a public school with the caveat that it might take place online. As the mother of two toddler boys, I can’t imagine trying to have the same schedule I had in San Francisco, during COVID-19. That said, people are making it work. With employers taking family circumstances into consideration, changes have taken place for the better – and employees have more options.
Let’s go back to my original question, who is going to benefit the most from a reshaped forty hour work week. Are parents the only ones benefiting from the death of the nine-to-five? Furthermore, what if some employees aren’t ready to see the nine-to-five go? After all, when I worked a nine-to-five, it was the consistency that kept me there. If the nine-to-five is dead, is consistency also dead? If you don’t hustle naturally, or if you like to know what your week is going to look like, what are our options? Not everyone is built to work on their own, and not everyone has a start-up idea.
The gray area I am describing is somewhat of a COVID-19 inhale. Maybe now is the time to ask ourselves life’s big questions. Without the social interaction, or the appeal of a big city – what will our life’s work look like?
What if, like me, this new normal is a total pivot? What if you preferred the consistency of steady employment like I did? I humbly suggest that this is the time to find the answers to these questions from experts who’ve been there. Just like you wouldn’t try sky diving without a tandem instructor the first time, reaching out for professional advice in the new normal is also important. I reached out and found Book and Baby, The Complete Guide to Managing Chaos and Becoming A Wildly Successful Writer-Parent: Devoe, Milda M: 9781952991073: Amazon.com: Books. With the tools and advice I’m gathering from Devoe, I feel better prepared to face a work-day without a boss, without the water cooler or mental prep that the daily commute used to provide. I’m learning with every chapter and am well on my way to becoming the wildly successful writer I’ve always dreamt of being (#notsorry).
This new territory is pushing the boundaries of what we’ve always known. I recognize that the most important thing COVID-19 taught me was that change is not only inevitable but it is also not insurmountable. How we’ve worked in the past will no longer work in this new normal, and that’s going to have to be ok. Some of us will have to adjust more than others, and that deserves a big COVID-19 exhale.