The COVID-19 pandemic seemed to come out of nowhere and knock us all off our feet. Businesses and individuals had to very quickly reassess every aspect of their lives and adjust to a new normal. Although many people adjusted with relative ease, many did not, and this was rarely more evident in the world of work, and work-life balance in particular.

Although it was necessary for many people to work in a different way due to the coronavirus pandemic and the necessity to keep as many people safe as possible, and it was good to see businesses taking their responsibilities seriously and implementing policies to do just that, there was most definitely a negative, as well as some positive, effect on the work-life balance experienced by many employees, one which is still, for many, an ongoing issue.

COVID’s effect on work-life balance – The positives

COVID’s effect on work-life balance has been a bit of a mixed bag, with some plus and some negative points, so let’s take a look at some of the most pressing issues around the subject right now, starting with the positives.

Better benefits and more flexibility

A study conducted by Aon reported that around 74 percent of companies have improved their employee assistance programs to focus more intently on employee wellbeing. Companies have expanded their knowledge and understanding of their employees’ needs and have created benefits packages that are aimed specifically at wellbeing.

There are also numerous reports to suggest that businesses have improved their family-friendly policies, particularly for parents of young children who are more likely to have caregiving responsibilities and have even implemented more paid leave and more flexible working hours.

Our expert counsellors will tell you that both of these things are likely to benefit the work-life balance of the employees who benefit from them, allowing them to arrange their lives in the ways that suit them most, and taking away some of the stresses and strains that work commitments can put on individuals.

More focus on mental health

COVID’s effect on work has also brought the focus on mental wellbeing right to the forefront of everyone’s mind. Companies that were traditionally not all that concerned about the mental health of their employees are now starting to have the conversation. This has, in part, at least, been brought on by the stresses and strains that became apparent when employees were forced to switch to remote working with very little notice, and all of the stresses and strains that come with that.

This has led to many more businesses taking ideas like mental health days, meditation and self-care more seriously than they would have in the past, which means it’s easier to strike the right balance between work and private life. Right now, employers are sending out a clear message that staff struggling with mental health issues will be supported, whether that’s via expert global counselling services, like the ones provided here at the Calgary Institute of Counselling, or via in-house help, and this can only ever be seen as a positive step forward for mental health in the workplace.

COVID’s effect on work-life balance – The negatives

Although there have been some big benefits from the pandemic, in terms of the work-life balance, there has been a negative side to the virus and the changes we have been forced to make as a result, too. What are they?

The lines between work and life have become blurred

When your home is your work and your work is your home, it’s easy for the boundaries between the two to become blurred. Although people are saving time on their commute, they are spending more time checking in on colleagues, checking out emails, attending Zoom meetings and… well you get the idea. When you’re working from home, you can lose track of time; you can feel like you’re always in the office and your boundaries can be eroded. This is not good for employees or the people who employ them.

Our counsellors will tell you that when you don’t have enough downtime from work, your mental health can suffer. You can start to feel stressed all the time, eventually leading to burnout. The good news is, although this is a real problem, many companies have instructed their HR firm to put measures in place that will empower employees to stop working when they’ve reached their limit.

Increased stress levels

Many people have found themselves trying to work from home, in an environment that is less than perfect due to space constraints, noise, or the presence of small children. This had led to an epidemic of stress amongst remote workers who are finding it harder to maintain a good work-life balance and have a decent quality of life in either sphere. When caring for your child affects your ability to attend meetings or noisy neighbors zap your concentration levels, it’s hard to really enjoy either aspect of your life and people really are suffering as a result.

Soaring levels of loneliness

When people are being forced to work from home, and there are strict limits on what they can do outside of work, loneliness is the natural outcome, and loneliness is what we are seeing all over the world due to the pandemic. How does this affect work-life balance? By making it more difficult for people to connect, share and enjoy both parts of their life effectively.

If you are struggling with COVID’s effect on your own personal work-life balance, it may be worth speaking to one of our high-quality counsellors here at the Calgary Institute of  Counselling. We offer affordable global counselling solutions to help you deal with your issues and become the happiest, most efficient version of yourself you can be. Whether you’re suffering from the loneliness that comes with remote working or the burnout that is a natural consequence of being asked to work from the place that you call home, we can help you find your way through it, So, what are you waiting for? Why not give us a call and start your journey to better mental health today.

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