There's been a lot of chatter recently about #quietquitting. Leaders are speculating the #greatresignation, generational differences in workstyles, and poor leadership are driving it. First, I'll go on the record saying that just because people are introducing boundaries into their work life, not saying yes to extra projects and assignments, or generally applying a more appropriate pace to their work doesn't mean they are #quietquitting or disengaged. Perhaps there's something else going on.
COVID-19 was the biggest disrupter many of us have seen in work patterns and behaviors in our careers. In many cases, we basically sent the entire workforce away from the office to work from home, with many companies yet to return to 'normal'; some never will. I'd like us to consider that many leaders may have vastly underestimated this considerable transition and its impact on people's workstyles and behavior.
As someone who worked remotely for most of my career, I can tell you it takes quite some time to figure out the balance. Remember, your office is now in your living space. It's too easy to get out of bed, check your email, get pulled into the first "fire of the day," and not stop until 3 pm when you realize your legs are asleep and you haven't eaten a morsel of food all day. Us remote warriors know the pain of 8 hours of meetings literally back-to-back because you no longer need to walk to the boardroom or anyone's office for that matter. Let's not forget the 8 pm stroll into the kitchen, past the dining room table, now your makeshift office, and the lure of the laptop and the 'you’ve got new mail’ icon heckling you as you walk by.
It takes time to learn how to work from home and do it in a way that doesn't produce burnout and a lack of balance. I would argue that some people barely made it through their first two years of remote work and are now saying they need more sustainable work habits and proper home/work boundaries if this is to be a permanent work arrangement. I suspect these significant changes are only now being implemented to the way people work and have become visible to their managers.
Instead of labeling this change in behavior as #quitequitting, leaders would be better positioned to instead invest in specific training for their teams on how to work remotely effectively and with balance. Also, it wouldn't hurt to check in on your teams' mental health during their dedicated one-on-one time, especially those living and working in a 600sq foot apartment!!