I invested $600 in a quality mattress when I moved to NYC after graduating from college and saying bye to my twin XL bed. Little did I know in 2018, this mattress will become one of the best investments I made for my post-grad transition from a “2020 COVID perspective”. Most of us are currently working from home, and even though quarantine policies have relaxed in the past few weeks in selected regions due to recovery, data from the Gallup Poll Social Series shows just 65 percent of respondents are completely satisfied with their physical safety at work. That’s the lowest score for the poll in at least the last decade, with a high of nearly 80 percent coming in 2017.
As a result, market leaders such as Google and Salesforce have publicly announced plans to allow employees to remain at home till mid-2021, and many other firms are following suit. For employees, this extended WFH period is an extra layer safety precaution but also translates into an increasingly confusing work/life balance where boundaries no longer seem to be clear or defined.
I live in a studio and my working area is essentially a desk two feet away from my bed. At the beginning of quarantine, I happily (and sneakily) thought that WFH would improve the quality of my life because I could log off my computer and go straight to bed each night without commute, and maybe even sneak in a power nap here and there during the day? Fast foward to almost half a year of WFH later, it is now clear to me that the quality of my rest is at a lifetime low and my mind is starting to get confused at the distinction between work and rest.
I’m not the only one thinking this way. Since the start of quarantine in March, google researchs on keyworks such as “worklife balance during COVID” and “how to achieve worklife balance” have trended up ~200%. Meditation apps like calm.com and Headspace all saw surges in the amount of downloads and paid users.
Aside from meditations and breathing techniques, the market has also seen a big wave of consumer brands targeting quality sleep for the past few months. As someone who hates Apple’s alarm sounds, I’ve personally really wanted to try out Loftie (https://byloftie.com/) who claims to help customers “break up with their phone alarms” and “turn your bedroom into a cool, calm, and collected sanctuary”.
More than enough macro trends and recent news point to multifacated challenges of COVID-19 and WFH. While we have tools and technology that are supposed to alleviate the physical and mental symptons unique to this time, it’s also important to realize technology and tools can only take you as far as you want to go. For many people, the two seconds between unlocking smartphones and opening meditation apps can bring in a flood of social media messages or work email notications and offset any calmness or stillness the next 15 minutes of meditation or breath works can induce.
At the end of the day, worklife balance isn’t a formula and there isn’t a right answer that can be universally applied to everyone. As technology advances, we tend to rely on tools and think they are cure-alls for every big or small issues we have, however, from my personal expereince in the past 6 months, finding the new WFH norm and getting to my inner peace is just as demanding and tricky as any other job, and this is a practice that I continue to train my mind getting used to each day :)