back to article Work life balance? We've heard of it. Pandemic means 9-5 shifts are a thing of the past for many

How’s your work life balance? For some people the lines between the daily grind and their personal time has blurred, and they are putting more hours into the job than before the pandemic forced offices to close. According to a quick temperature reading, 5,556 employees recorded an opinion on Blind, an anonymous app-based forum …

  1. Snake Silver badge

    Work from home hours

    For me, this is 100% true. I was just given more work from home items today, for the weekend, and I put more hours into doing it (paid photography) than I did at the office.

    And I'm beat, I overdid it with my workout yesterday. But the stuff is (somewhat) expected to be done on a reasonable schedule (I've been trying to put a kibosh on that expectation, it's my damn weekend!).

    You might be asking yourself "photography? I thought this was a tech site." I'm a man of many talents and cover a lot of ground in this business.

    1. Geoffrey W

      Re: Work from home hours

      Photography? From home? There's a market for lots of photos of your kitchen and bedroom? Cool! Where do you apply?

      1. Snake Silver badge

        Re: Work from home?

        LOL! ^_^ If you've followed my posts long enough you'll know that, yeah, I actually have been paid for photography...taken in the bedroom... >;-)

        but that's not for this work, ROFL. Product shots. Paid, torturously technical, sometimes when it won't cooperate painfully labor intensive, product shots.


        Save yourself. Just...don't.

        1. Geoffrey W

          Re: Work from home?

          I'm keener on landscape photography. Is there a market for post apocalypse kitchen landscapes? Or jungle landscapes in the garden? I got me some bears! It's my sad fate to want to do everything that others prefer me not to do.

          1. Snake Silver badge

            Re: How about post apocalypse kitchen landscapes?

            Like just about any other interest, once you make it a profession - getting paid for it but needing to meet other people's expectations - the joy gets sucked right the heck out of it.

            I've had 13 different jobs during my lifetime. I've done everything from drive tractor-trailer cross country, to managing a professional photo lab, to installing home theater in the homes of the rich and famous, to tech jobs including disaster recovery. I've had an interesting but good life. Yet every job eventually ends up sucking the joy out of what you thought you loved doing in your spare time thanks to deadlines, demanding customers, jobs you'd really not rather do but it's being paid for, and overall stress of expectations needing to be met.

            1. elip

              Re: How about post apocalypse kitchen landscapes?

              Absolutely rings true here. Jobs are slavery. I wish people realized how little work relative to current job expectations, it is to subsistence farm and make your own food (assuming you enjoy it). I'm 1 year away from paying off this house/land I'm on, and then its good bye rat race. I can finally farm full time.

              1. Snake Silver badge

                Re: 1 year away

                Complete congrats! Wish you all the best and future happiness, too.

                Indeed. Slavery. Social pressure that tells you that you really need to do this, yet only a lucky (or corrupt) few truly get all the benefits that they tease you with inside the promise. Even my poor boss doesn't have all he should, considering how damn hard he insists upon working himself. He needs to understand to live for today, because tomorrow might never come :-(

              2. Rich 11 Silver badge

                Re: How about post apocalypse kitchen landscapes?

                I wish people realized how little work relative to current job expectations, it is to subsistence farm and make your own food (assuming you enjoy it).

                Same here. I effectively retired two months ago, having reached my savings target, which is enough to ensure that I can afford to buy a new place and get everything set up the way I want it without having to draw on my pension pot for maybe six more years. I reckon I should be able to grow 80% (by value) of all the food I need (which will keep shopping costs to a minimum) and it'll only take up an average of an hour or so a day.

                When I realised that I'd reached my target a couple of years early I also realised that there really was nothing binding me to my old job -- especially after six months of WFH -- and under the current circumstances it's certainly not going to hurt that my retirement will mean several other people can each take a step up the jobs ladder.

              3. TheMeerkat Silver badge

                Re: How about post apocalypse kitchen landscapes?

                Don’t write bollocks. Subsistent farming is a lot of work.

                And unless you don’t need electricity, water, pay property taxes, insurance etc., you still need to sell the produce to earn money.

                1. ICL1900-G3

                  Re: How about post apocalypse kitchen landscapes?

                  Especially in the UK. Council tax is particularly iniquitous.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Work from home hours

      You sound simply insufferable.

  2. John Robson Silver badge

    same as before

    But since I was WFH before it doesn't really make that much difference.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: same as before

      Same here, except when i was working at work, the extra i did i usually logged and got paid for, now i work my hours, leave my home office work area, and using my home laptop, sit on my sofa, and with my free time continue working on and off.

      Before when i did (started in feb working from home), i would work longer at work, book the extra hours, come home and do the same until i went to bed.

    2. MrMerrymaker

      Re: same as before

      Those are some good lyrics!

  3. a_yank_lurker

    Corporate Culture

    My observation is some companies prefer a hard work-life balance for all employees. In my case I am expected to work a regular set of hours so people can get a hold of me and have some idea of my schedule. I am not expected to regularly week out these hours and am not expected to log on during the weekend or while on vacation as a matter of routine. I have a reasonable balance whether I am in the office or at home. Other companies do not extend these courtesies to their employees. And there is no real work-life balance at these companies.

    1. chivo243 Silver badge

      Re: Corporate Culture - Corporate Cogs

      A very good, old friend(it's been years) is caught in the corporate machine. Chasing his promotions, chasing retirement benefits, always on call, getting shuffled to other cities half way across the country to avoid redundancy, pity really, he is missed. I'm reminded of Bell Boy by The Who

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Corporate Culture

      I'm now WFH, but keep rigid hours, same ones as before. As far as my family is concerned, I'm "at work" (in another room, door closed, don't disturb except for emergencies) until lunch or end of shift. It seems to be a pretty good way of handling the work-life balance and keeping either from bleeding into the other.

  4. chivo243 Silver badge

    Knock on WFH

    In the past, my users were off work by 6pm or so. Before it was very late, I was free to login for 2 minutes and restart their workstations and servers in the evenings, however since people have to work from home, and care for family, they are working split shifts, and I now see users working at 11pm, and then the missus gives WFT eye because I'm working!

  5. Outski

    I've found my actual work has dropped off a bit since lockdown, although I'm still normally at my kitchen table til around 7pm. However, that's mostly because a two year data-centre migration and consolidation was coming to a close towards the end of last year, with a late flurry due to political disruption in Hong Kong and a drive to get the last of our W2K8 kit decommed before January.

    We'd just about got that done, before it was all hands to the pump as soon as February hit, since WHO declared a public health emergency of international consequence at the back end of January, completing most of our prep by mid-March. 90% of the firm went to WFH, with little loss of service, just a large downturn in our business.

  6. The Empress

    They try to flog us donkeys 24/7

    But we resist and demand to be put on shifts. I don't care if your hair is on fire, when the shop whistle blows I'm out.

    1. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      Re: They try to flog us donkeys 24/7

      Prior to my recent retirement they paid me eight till four. That's when I worked. Outside that time, the computer is off, and if someone wants to call me it had better not be about work except in very very special circumstances.

      1. illiad

        Re: They try to flog us donkeys 24/7

        get a different phone for the office, switch if OFF outside office hours...

        1. Geoffrey W

          Re: They try to flog us donkeys 24/7

          Or better yet, use burner phones (I'm so hip: I know all the street lingo) - use em for a while then toss em and get another. It'll keep the buggers on their toes trying to keep up.

      2. Rilik

        Re: They try to flog us donkeys 24/7

        Same. I'm 36, considered "senior" and I do the same. I'm surprised my colleagues still fall into the trap of working extra hours with no compensation.

        "But I like it" "but it's my passion" "but I need to work extra else work piles up" are not valid reasons to willingly accept exploitation.

        Companies work for profit, full stop. They don't provide ping pong and candies because they love their employees, no. They do because it's cheaper and easier for convincing them to work extra.

        So yeah, a pat on the back is nice when I work extra, but gets old quickly. Pay my time, it's as worthy as yours.

        1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

          Re: They try to flog us donkeys 24/7

          Some of us organize our lives on some principle other than financial compensation.

          I work when I want, as much as I want. I happen to be well-compensated for it, and that's useful for the other things I do. But I don't feel the need to extract some fixed amount of money for every second I spend improving my employer's position. What a sad mental state that would be.

          Of course, most of my work involves thinking about things. It would be tiresome to try to keep track of that.

          1. Rilik

            Re: They try to flog us donkeys 24/7

            Well, maybe it's a sad mental state, yet sometimes it's necessary as many companies only get money talk. I definitely, like you, don't live for the money, yet that's very much quantifiable for both parties.

            By the way, I wrote "pay my time", and by that I meant pay compensation. It does not necessarily mean I should get paid money, I'm fine with other perks as long as you compensate me. Compensation is key. No compensation, no extra work.

  7. Geoffrey W

    I've been working from home for years and I have to say my work life balance is definitely skewed...not towards life or even towards work, but towards laziness; Always Lazy, never Idle. I fit life and work in whenever I have a moment. And now it seems a lot of the world is catching up with me and I'm no longer alone. I've never been happier.

    Icon is me hard at work. I hope my anonymity is safe behind my devious nom de plume!

    1. elip

      That sounds a lot like me now. In my younger days I'd be that 'go to guy' that everybody went with their questions. I was oddly psychopathic (or extremely dedicated) about figuring things out and solving the roots of company problems, even if they weren't 100% related to the dumpster-fire at hand, knowing someday this ancillary breadth of knowledge would come in handy. It usually did. The amount of self-induced stress I took upon myself as a result, caused massive psychological problems through my 20s and early 30s. I basically didn't know my kids until about 2 years ago (they're 13 and 11 now), even though I've worked 50-100% from home for 15+ years now. In the last two years I've realized I am to blame for all of this, as none of these were expectations of my employers, just mine. I work identical hours wether I'm in the office now or not. I give about 10-15% effort compared to my previous ways, and somehow shit still gets done and done at a high quality, my manager is happy as hell, I keep getting raises and decent bonuses when/if the company makes them available. It took me 40 years to reach contentment and psychological security, but boy does it feel good.

  8. Jay 2

    Before all this Covid stuff my office hours were 8-4 plus any usual sys admin type stuff that needs to happen out of hours. I managed to mostly avoid rush hours and keep the coverage.

    At one point WFH during the current situation that somehow morphed onto 7-5+ and with no travelling to decompress it seemed pretty full-on as soon as I got up and walked down stairs.

    Since then I’ve switched to 9-5 which seems to be OK and means there’s a sliver more time to interact with my US colleagues. Though overall the lack of hubbub and other social interaction you’d usually get in the office does tend to make me lose track of time a bit more.

  9. illiad

    TL;DR, but SEPERATE home and office...

    even before the pandemic, people leaned to make their garage/ spare into 'The Office'... so you behave like in the workplace.. no sleepins, get to 'work' at 9, finish at 5!! and get a BIG office clock.... :P

  10. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    NHS worker

    Dealing with C-19 data since the madness kicked off. Work/life balance only slowly tilting back towards something like "normal" after a few months of absolute hell. It's been one wild ride.

  11. Denarius Silver badge

    WLB ? dunno about working from home. Usually working from shed or in paddocks.

  12. Wyrdness

    I'm probably working harder from home than when I was in the office. The flip side is that I gain an extra 2 hours from not commuting. This is time that I can use for myself - such as sleeping until 8:30, instead of leaving to go to the office at that time.

    Also, what with restricted socialising in the pub etc. I've more free evenings, so if I'm busy and want to work later then I can. Fortunately I've an interested job so don't mind doing that on occasion. I wouldn't want to make a habit of it though.

    1. AK565

      I'm in almost the exact same situation. One job is 10a-2p required +5hrs admin work when convenient. 2nd job runs roughly 3-7p. In a few weeks will start a 3rd which consists of my being on standby while I do my own thing at home. The 15hrs/week saved in commuting makes up for anything I might've lost.

  13. My other car WAS an IAV Stryker

    TL;DR: I've been more productive at home than the office and want to keep it that way.

    The best part is that I have an actual home office with my own door that I can close for meetings. Having my own space is key. I can turn on some productive music (classical, mostly, but Christmas music is coming soon) and get into my engineering zone. (Too often a certain co-worker's distracting music -- lyrics, blegh -- was too loud to compete with.)

    I like clocking on at 0600 ET and off around 1500 and not wasting time packing food for the day or commuting (even though it was only ~9 miles). Coworkers know I'm not likely to attend a meeting at 1500 or 1600.

    It was especially great in the spring, when the kids' "virtual schooling" was new and very unstructured, and the summer (no school). Not so much since classes restarted with live whole-class video chats via Teams -- especially since I'm the building's IT guy -- but things have gotten better (especially with a $35 Wi-Fi hotspot to supplement the crap radios in AT&T's modem).

    But here's the context: I do what I want and don't give a darn about who else is working or when.

    Example is a 9/80 work schedule -- my former employer had official policies with ~90% of the employees taking every bi-weekly payday (Friday) off. When I switched, I told folks "I'm still doing that" and found the timesheet tricks to do so. Everyone was reasonably flexible. Right before the pandemic, current employer started an official corporate 9/80 policy, which hasn't really taken off, and I now get my non-payday Friday off, and my coworkers don't seem to appreciate my preferences, but I care more about my family time and "work balance" than pleasing them. I take those Fridays off and otherwise flex my schedule any way I need, and will continue until I'm threatened with termination.

    For now, I have an instant defense: the CEO's company-wide policy is "remote if possible until the end of 2020" (and I expect this will be extended). After that, I might do one or even two days a week in the office, but it's going to be difficult because we lost (via a collision) one of the two family cars a few weeks back.

    And if those weren't enough reasons: One coworker who was mostly in-office contracted COVID and other office-dwellers had to self-quarantine at home anyway. HA! That's what you get for not following CEO guidance. I'll stay unexposed at home, thank you.

  14. hoola Silver badge

    Overall productivity is the issue

    Looking at what I see in our IT Teams I think that some individuals productivity has increased, some has gone down. The latter fall into a couple of categories:

    1. They are working from home in a far from ideal environment because their home circumstances do not permit the luxury of a dedicated office. The are having to fit in with home life, possibly a partner also working from home kids etc.

    2. Even with Teams and all the other "virtual working" stuff it is becoming increasingly difficult to get decisions made upstream. The longer this goes on the more management appear to be in a world of their own with little concept of what is happing where real IT work is down.

    3. For some home working is a way of doing as little as possible, in the office they can coast a bit but once that peer environment is removed it becomes very much more difficult to monitor and address.

    4. Others are doing too much, not switching off for all sorts or reasons resulting in inefficiency, mistakes and also not helping those who are working normal hours. Management then start to accept out-of-hours or extended-hours cover but without the inconvenience of actually paying for it. We are seeing this now and it is becoming a big issue. On one hand we are told not to send out-of-hours communications then on the other hand, the very people telling us not to do so, are send messages and wanting a response.

    Work-Life-Balance can be challenging and working from home initially looked to be a real winner. For the minority (and a small number of new) that it originally suited it is great but as the number has rapidly increased, in our case to 100%, the benefits are starting to be outweighed by unexpected negatives. There is also a whole set of issues around new employees starting and the difficulty in then making teams work with no real interaction other than a video link.

    1. Helcat

      Re: Overall productivity is the issue

      My own experience was one of drift: I'd get up, have breakfast, then tidy up, then log in and start work, and finish about normal time. Then I was leaving the tidying up 'till lunchtime, and instead I logged in earlier. And earlier. And then I was grabbing breakfast and logging in as I ate... and I was finishing later and later, and meetings were being arranged for 8am and 7pm and it became very evident it was getting silly.

      I know people trapped in that cycle, and their managers aren't doing anything to stop it, seeing it as a benefit. The key, of course, is to be aware of this and be firm with your timings - easier if you've kids or pets, or if you've a partner who is being strict :)

  15. Potemkine! Silver badge

    In the socialist hell-hole known as France, we have a law named 'the right to disconnect' . It's far from being perfect, there are loopholes, but it's a start. No one should become a serf exploitable at will because technology enables it. Slavery is over, I fear people will have to fight to avoid having it reinstated.

  16. You aint sin me, roit

    Busy looking busy...

    I suspect there's a lot of underperforming managers who want to get back into the office so they can at least look busy...

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