For many of us, remote work is here to stay. Sentral’s flexibly designed apartments adapt to your changing needs. Photo of Sentral DTLA 755 by James Baigrie.
The Flex Life: Navigating the New Normal of Work/Life Balance
BY KATE BRATSKEIR
If, years from now, you were to uncover a time capsule that captured work in the 2010s, you might find a smattering of single-serving snacks, a sign for a nap room, some slightly crushed ping pong balls — all remnants of an era when so-called office perks were meant to keep employees happy.
“Before the pandemic, when there was no choice but to come into the office, you had all those things to try to make the office world suck less,” says David Powell, president of
, a productivity intelligence company. But all of this was really “window dressing,” as Powell puts it. “It wasn’t necessarily central to someone feeling connected to the workplace.”
HOW THE PANDEMIC REORDERED OUR VALUES
Flash forward to March 2020, when the U.S. shut down and many workers had to figure out how to do their jobs in makeshift home offices for the following year plus. Employees, at least those not tied to physical workplaces, rediscovered the things they value most: families, pets, working in sweatpants — not so much free granola bars. Indeed, close to
25% of employees
in a recent survey by Prodoscore and Propeller Insights said there aren’t any
perks that would encourage them return to the office full-time.
The necessary shift to remote work “boiled work down to its rawest form,” Powell says. “The superfluous stuff has gone by the wayside.” And now that the majority of these employees have proven they can be just as (if not more) productive working remotely — equipped with the right digital collaboration tools and a strong internet connection — they can’t help but to imagine the possibilities.
Powell, who’s a recent empty-nester, says he and his wife are dreaming up all of the places they might temporarily call home in the near future. “Maybe once a quarter, we just pick a different place and live in a different spot,” he says. He’ll be able to work from anywhere, and he and his wife can explore a new city together.
Sentral’s designer furnishings allow for multiple uses, whether you’re writing, podcasting, or entertaining friends. Photo of Sentral Michigan Avenue by James Baigrie.
WILL WORK FOR FLEXIBILITY
Of course, it’s not just Powell who’s taking advantage of being untethered. Many have gotten creative about what a new iteration of work can be — like the family that
worked remote from an RV
for a year and took in the country’s national parks, or the
pair of best friends
who decided to co-work from one of their apartments. Sentral, of course, is designed to enable the new, ultra-flexible way of life:
facilitate working from home with modular furniture and tech solutions, while common areas include indoor/outdoor workspaces as well as private conference rooms.
New remote and hybrid set-ups like these mean we don’t have to go back to long commutes and bad coffee. “Your options are not ‘in the office, with other people, 9 to 6 every day’ or ‘miserable and alone in my small apartment,” journalist Anne Helen Petersen
wrote in April
. Instead, she sees “the potential for a different posture towards work, in which, again, the work itself becomes malleable, even an accessory, to the rest of our lives.”
FINDING THE BALANCE
So how do we get closer to this “version of a full life,” as Petersen described it?
There will be some bumps along the way, since there’s no HR guidebook for returning to work in the wake of global pandemic. Powell says corporate culture will have to become more intentional: Companies will need to devise new systems to make the future of work accommodating to everyone — especially because employees, not employers, have the upper hand right now (hello,
Sentral communities offer plenty of common areas where collaboration can thrive. Photo of Sentral DTLA 755 by James Baigrie.
Employers will have to figure out how to design an equitable work experience so that hybrid workers and fully remote workers have the same opportunities. Employees themselves will need to consider what factors help to do their best work and reassess their habits. Could that meeting be an email instead? Do you thrive best in the beginning of the day,
as research suggests many do
, and should you stack your most pressing projects in the a.m. hours?
Employers will need to learn the true meaning of flexibility. This might look like keeping meetings between 11 and 3, so neither west coast nor east coast employees get the raw end of the deal. Or it could mean limiting meetings altogether; Sentral encourages “meeting-free Fridays” so work-from-home residents can focus on completing tasks and avoid Zoom fatigue. This move also enables folks to work with less surveillance, meaning they can tap out a spreadsheet with a child on their lap, sans judgement. Or better yet, do it under the shade of a palm tree.
SENTRAL IS DESIGNED TO FIT AROUND YOUR LIFE, NO MATTER HOW AND WHEN YOUR WORK HAPPENS. WE DO THAT THROUGH INTENTIONAL DESIGN, PREMIUM AMENITIES, AND CONVENIENT LEASE FLEXIBILITY.
EXPERIENCE LIFE AT SENTRAL