Going back to work: what does it mean?

Vaccine rates are rising. The masks are coming off. Businesses have reopened. We are inching closer and closer to life as we used to know it.

But it will never quite be the same, will it? The global pandemic has changed our perspective on many topics, quite notably how we engage with the workplace.

June 24 is National Work From Home Day, which in light of the last 14 months feels pretty irrelevant. Yet it does cause us to ponder how the second half of 2021 will look.

A shortage of available employees is being felt in a myriad of sectors as people continue to accept unemployment or are rethinking their careers. We urge islanders to not keep accepting state employment benefits if they are able to work. Our local economy is suffering. Businesses are closed during prime income days due to a lack of staff members. Those who are currently employed are often stressed and over-worked, picking up the slack. Visitors are coming here in record numbers and we don’t have the people in place to support the influx of people and dollars. If you think this doesn’t affect you, you’d be wrong. We who live in an isolated, rural community, share each other’s burdens and triumphs.

This is also a time to reexamine how you work. Some of us have found that being able to finish projects from home has reduced stress considerably, allowed for more self-care time and connection with family and strengthened time management skills. Others have missed the social interaction and structure of working alongside others.

We believe the answer lies somewhere in between, and we are happy to see that employers are recognizing that. A combination of at-home work and in-office employment could prove to have long-term benefits for both companies and their employees. If you are going to pursue a hybrid model, it’s important to set up a designated workspace in your home with clear boundaries — both physical and otherwise. It’s very easy to slip into working too much when it’s so accessible or becoming distracted by others in your house.

With strict travel restrictions in place throughout the world for the past year, many are rejoicing in the opportunity to hop on a plane and see somewhere new. We hope that continues — it’s an essential part of the balance between earning your paycheck and enjoying the fruits of that labor.

With an immense sigh of relief as well as a bit of caution (if we’ve learned anything it’s that all we can really count on is change), we are rejoicing at the possibility of a new chapter for us all and curious to see how the lessons of the pandemic carry us forward.