The COVID-19 pandemic changed everything about how IT and litigation support employees view work-life balance, and the role their jobs play in their lives. As we collectively move into a “living with COVID” reality, many employers and employees are on different pages, not only about remote work, but also about effort, engagement, and career advancement in the new normal.
Working from Home
We know that the majority of workers enjoy working from home. There are a lot of perks: no commute, flexibility to pick up kids or quickly run an errand, and peace and quiet to help you concentrate on your work, to name a few. But a September survey by the American Bar Association revealed that “almost half of respondents reported decreased quality of relationships with co-workers, with men more likely to experience that decrease.” The same survey revealed that women and people of color especially value a welcoming and collaborative culture in their workplace. Employers believe that working from home is contributing to a decline in employee relationships, culture, and collaboration. While that might not be the whole story, if you’re looking to get promoted or receive higher pay, being flexible about when and how often you work from home could make an impact. If your boss wants the whole team to come into the office for a meeting, or picks a day each week for the entire team to be on-site, try to accommodate those requests when possible. This can demonstrate that you’re a team player, that you respect your manager, and that you’re committed to your job. You’re also likely to benefit professionally and relationally from the collaboration and face-to-face time with your coworkers and manager.
55% of respondents in a recent survey said they would look for a new job if required to work more than three days in the office. You might fall into this category, or you might be looking for a new opportunity for other reasons. In either case, don’t let perfection be the enemy of good. Many law firms are offering hybrid work arrangements that either didn’t exist before the onset of the pandemic or were on a case-by-case basis. Consider if you really need five days a week at home, or if two or three would provide the flexibility you desire.
Effort & Engagement
Many IT professionals, especially Millennials and Gen Z, have found it challenging to feel engaged at work. Whether it be from burnout, or simply from an inability to create strong relationships at work, this disconnect can impact job satisfaction, which in turn can hinder one’s ability to advance within their department or receive a promotion. Remember that you’re in control of your engagement at work and your career path. To grow in your role and advance within your department, you may need to put in extra hours from time to time to accomplish a project on time or help out a manager or teammate. You can build your relationships with teammates or managers by asking questions about their lives outside of work, or setting meetings (remote or in-person) to chat about a project. You should also consider having direct and open conversations with your supervisor if you’re struggling with aspects of your job, work-life balance, or engagement with your coworkers. If you feel like your efforts aren’t being recognized, now is a great time to put together a list of accomplishments, take note of additions to your responsibilities, identify your market value, and prepare to have a conversation with your boss about compensation and bonuses in the new year. If you’ve found that you’re not putting in the effort that you used to, ask yourself if you’re in the right role, at the right law firm, and in the right work environment for you and your career goals. If your current situation is the problem, we’re here to help.
For many, the pandemic has created a shift in priorities and influenced work dynamics and their preferences. As you begin to set career goals for the year ahead, consider where you may need to be flexible, put in extra effort, or have conversations to advance your career.