At 6:30 my alarm goes off and I awake to one of my favorite smells, a strong brew of Seattle’s Best. I always feel a little guilty as I saunter out of bed at that time; because if it were 2019, I’d already be behind the wheel with no less than 16 ounces of hot-caffeinated coffee flowing through my veins. Alas, that guilt is short lived, being home at 6:30 means I get to be hands on with getting my kids ready in the morning! What a blessing! (or is it?!?)
As a Mom, my next hour is filled with; making breakfast, packing lunch, telling little boys to make themselves less stinky and feeding multiple hungry dogs. This one hour marathon ends when I do the school drop off run and if no one has forgotten anything, then I find myself back home by 7:45. Ahhh- 15 minutes of alone time before I have to be at work. As I settle in for a few minutes of relaxation (with another cup of coffee) I realize that I have gotten three people ready for their day and I was not one of them. Oh crap – we are now down to 13 minutes before I start work.
8:00 I make the shortest commute of my life, 13 stairs. Well, I take that back – if I take a detour and go downstairs to get coffee first then it is actually 27 stairs, but in a pinch I can make it in under 5 seconds. As I arrive at work I am greeted by my favorite friends; my three dogs. Their attendance is actually better than any employee I have ever had BUT conversation is super one sided and I am the only one that ever contributes to team lunches.
If you count virtual, then my day is filled with human interaction; yet I find myself talking to inanimate objects more than I feel is healthy. I literally stuck bug eyes to my zoom camera so I can look people in the eye. Luckily I have some flexibility in my schedule that often allows me to escape for lunch or afternoon shopping. If I didn’t have that glimpse of human interaction, I think I would lose my mind! Unfortunately it’s short lived as I have to return for an afternoon of back to back Zoom meetings.
I make it through the first hour and a half of meetings before I get a call from my youngest son’s school. One of his classmates tested positive for COVID and they are now sending him home until he gets a test. Quickly I pass off my next meeting to a team member and jump in the car to pick up the little guy. Luckily, he is totally well and his biggest concern is if he still gets to go to taekwondo or not.
I get back to work in time to make my last few zoom meetings and wrap up the day’s projects. At around 5 PM I walk downstairs and am greeted by my family and, usually, their demands for dinner. From there I proceed with the operational aspect of chores, homework, dinner prep, dinner cleanup, and family time. If I am lucky, I get all my stuff done by 10 PM when the kiddos go to bed… and I am exhausted!
I love being a Mom and I love having a career, but never before in my life have the two collided in such a way. Not until now did I truly value the fact that I can leave in the middle of a workday to get my kids from school or work from home because they’re in “quarantine” more than I did my actual salary. This modern way of life and the realities that exist here cause me to re-evaluate what is most important.
What I think is interesting is while most employees are having this AHA moment; where they are re-evaluating, not all employers are doing the same. We work with some VERY forward thinking companies who do all they can to support their employees, but I have also heard some horror stories from candidates about companies who clearly value their bottom line and antiquated practices more than they value their people.
In this landscape the best guidance I can give a employee is to know what is important to you and make sure that your values align with the company you are looking to join. If your life is like mine, then you need to be with a company that offers flexibility over a 60 hour workweek and an amazing comp package.
Additionally, if you are an employer, I challenge you to put yourself in your employees shoes. If you want your employees to be in office 100% of the time, be ready to support needs that may arise and understand that 2022 is vastly different from 2019. The price of gas alone has increased by 60%, and that doesn’t factor in the ever rising cost of new vehicles. Offer support for your employees who are trying to juggle working with their families at their fingertips and while being successful for you. Offer strong healthcare to ensure your employees can maintain their health and, above all, be flexible. There is nothing wrong with supporting people in ways that are customized to their needs. Treating employees with the same grace you would extend to your loved ones (not necessarily yourself) is always a good practice.