Companies Announce Employees ‘Back to Work,’ but When Did We Leave?

Back to Work BELatina Latinx
Photo courtesy of forbes.com

I woke up to my alarm a bit later than usual, but the login time was the same. Standing for 9 hours at the breakfast counter wasn’t much different from my stand-up desk at the office, except for the flexibility to make height adjustments.

The workday begins with checking emails. Then I proceed, work as usual. 

The stress level is relieved only by the absence of a long commute — a one-and-half hour door-to-door transfer to and from the office in a congested and busy metropolitan city is taxing, and the toll it takes adds to all the pressures of daily responsibilities. As a single mother taking care of all the duties in a household, it has been a “Hail Mary Pass” to work from home for an extended period. 

Time is a luxury that most of us do not have, and the cost savings is a blessing for a parent about to pay for her daughter’s college tuition.

I have been working from home for 16 months with equal productivity — possibly more than while I was sitting behind a desk. If you ask employees about productivity levels, they may agree that work has not suffered despite circumstances. Personally, the quality of my work has not diminished, and the drive to deliver good results has remained intact. 

Although some businesses have suffered, several industries continue to thrive in the face of adversity, but some are skeptical about performance.

We have read the latest headlines about firms announcing the “return” of employees to the office.

However, making the statement that employees are “getting back to work” is not only unfair but inaccurate. 

The workforce has been actively putting in the hours and labor to help companies move in the direction of business as usual. The diligent effort has created a world where being in the office physically is not required to get things done.  In fact, there are people not taking breaks to ensure the responsibilities of their job are fulfilled. Stepping away for lunch, bathroom stops, and coffee runs are practically obsolete. Workers have done away with moments that help them catch their breath leading to burnout.

Many are doing the same work nonstop, building a wall of stress. While some are worried about proving themselves, others are overwhelmed with thoughts about their future. Either way, we are overworked and burning at both ends. To say we’re “getting back to work” dismisses what employees have been doing all this time. The workforce is showing up despite challenging times at a cost. Juggling home and career from one location blurs boundaries. There has been little to no time for pause, leaving workers stretched.

Hopefully, going forward, employers acknowledge the work being done is not without consequence. The physical and mental toll that exhaustion has taken on people is real, certainly demands attention. Meanwhile, I am working on giving myself some grace to manage all the expectations of my job, and you should too!