2020 has been an interesting year to say the least. For many people, the end of the year will come as a relief. The new year is a chance to relax, reset and get ready for a new (and hopefully better) year ahead. Despite the rollercoaster that was 2020, some silver linings can be found, especially in the way we approach our work-life.

New priorities

As a parent juggling your work, home responsibilities and your children’s extracurricular activities can be chaotic. While the lockdown was shocking and stressful for many, it also allowed time to slow down and spend quality time with children without many of life’s distractions. We were reminded that family and the people you care about really are the most important thing.

Going into 2021, I would expect to see more people prioritising their family life. It can be easy to let work get in the way, but Covid reminded us we shouldn’t let work take over. Work-life balance is going to be a hot topic in the new year. This past year has provided us with the tools to juggle work and home life.

Flexible working

The lockdown proved that working from home is not as impossible as it once may have seemed. Businesses are now more willing to let employees work from home at least once or twice a week. This can free up office space and provide flexibility to employees who enjoyed being at home. More people are likely to invest in a decent home office set-up.

The traditional model of five days working in an office has been disrupted. In 2021, we may even see more workplaces trying four-day work weeks or questioning whether they need a physical office at all. With employees working from home or working reduced days, some businesses may opt for moving into shared spaces instead.

Technology

Zoom burst on to the map during the first lockdown. Every household took their bubble virtual to keep in touch with their workplace, school, friends and family. Zoom quickly became part of the everyday vocabulary.

Many workplaces have kept up the use of video conferencing, even after the return to the office. Zoom has rapidly added new features, making it a useful tool for use within the workplace and meeting with clients. It has also been a great way to keep in touch with extended family, especially those overseas who we can no longer visit easily.

Other technology has been created in response to the lockdowns worldwide to address the new problems we have faced. I expect many of these solutions to be launched and adopted next year.

Going online

Many businesses quickly adapted their models to be available online. Suddenly we could do our favourite workout class in the living room, click and collect food or coffee from our favourite local cafe and have almost anything delivered. Businesses can no longer afford to be offline, as this has become the new normal.

Getting to know your neighbours

During the lockdown, everyone was stuck within their postcode. On their daily walks around the neighbourhood, many people got to know their neighbours. Some people even started community WhatsApp groups. These relationships are a great thing to take into 2021. You never know when you might need to pop next door to borrow an egg or cup of sugar.

Increased health

To fight against Covid-19, we have been washing and sanitising our hands frequently. Workplaces are now more cautious of allowing employees to come into work when they feel even a little under the weather.

As a result, we are now better protected against all types of bugs. These healthy habits are a great thing to carry into the new year. Hopefully, this means less time in bed with a cold or flu next year.

Exploring our backyard

With the borders closed, Kiwis are now being forced to holiday locally. Luckily, we have a beautiful country to explore. When the borders eventually open again, many people will flock overseas. However, I suspect some may find a new favourite spot right here at home to keep going back to.

Conclusion

It’s been an unprecedented year. There has been uncertainty and loss, but we have also gained a new perspective on work and life. Many positive habits and new ways of working can and should be carried through to next year.

This article was originally published in the New Zealand Herald.