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 | By Dan Cellucci

Honor the dignity of working remotely

The pandemic upended, at least momentarily, what work looks like for most industries. Everything has changed drastically, from where we work and to how we interact with colleagues, to even how we accomplish many day-to-day tasks. While some things have gone “back to normal,” the disruption caused many of us to differently prioritize work and perhaps elevate things like family time and health. For those who enjoy (or suffer through) work that is fully or partially remote, it can be easy to feel a tension between embracing self-care and feeling like we might be taking advantage of the situation. Below are three ways to examine your conscience and consider if you are honoring the dignity of work in your remote reality.

Boundaries or barriers?

One of the dangers of remote work is how easily the lines can blur between when we are “on” for family versus “on” for work. Despite less commuting and more sweatpants, burnout seems to be on the rise. Part of honoring the tension between self-care and selfishness is making sure we have clear and reasonable boundaries that separate our work time from our leisure. Be sure you can articulate when those times are and communicate that to your supervisor and team. This will enable your employer to hold you to an agreed-upon standard and will help you to avoid resentment becoming a barrier to a healthy work experience. 

Focus or function?

One blessing of remote work is that some of those little domestic chores that seemed to take forever to accomplish may now be easier to master. The windows of time where we can welcome a plumber or get caught up on laundry have expanded. However, as people of faith who embrace justice, we need to remember, we aren’t being paid to do our own laundry. It’s important to reflect on how focused we’ve been at the end of our workday. Are we giving our fullest attention to that which we are being compensated for whatever hours we’re working? Are we focused or just functioning?

Proactive or protective?

We all differ in how private we are, and we are entitled to our privacy when we are not “at work.” One of the tensions for remote work is determining what is “personal time.” The best answer is to be as proactive as possible in sharing. If your corporate culture is to be on screen during virtual meetings and your camera is off, tell people why. If you are going to be away from your computer for a few hours to write something that takes concentration – put it on your calendar. If you have a doctor’s appointment and you are going to work a few hours later to catch up, let your supervisor know. If you feel like it’s something you need to protect from sharing, chances are you should take actual personal/vacation time for it.

In a world that seems to be increasingly full of blurred lines, we are called to be people who live in the freedom of truth. Be a witness of clarity and honor in your work and you will be leaven for the world (see Mt 13:33).

Dan Cellucci is the CEO of the Catholic Leadership Institute.

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