Covid Has Blurred the Work/Home Line

For years, managers tried to keep a distance from employees and their personal lives. Things slowly started to change where managers were learning more about their teams in an effort to help them be authentic. Then Covid hit. Managers were not only learning about the home lives of employees, but in many cases they were looking in on it through the Zoom lens. Managers saw pictures, kids, pets, sometimes messes, and a whole load of things both good and bad.

In essence, the idea of keeping work and personal separate was silly. Of course, the pandemic swung the pendumlum too far the other way. Most managers, once we return to the post-Covid world, will balance the two. Some will struggle more than others.

People have gotten used to new ways of working and new ways of sharing. As manager, you will have to find the new ground that is comfortable for you and your employees. My guess is that it will be closer to the Zoom world than the "keep things separate" world. You'll find it if you are open with your team and listen well.

The one caution I have is the advice you will get from the HR and Legal teams. Because of their role and their aversion to issues, they will push heavily to not being too involved in your employees personal life. They will want you to go back to the firewall between work and home life. They see a manager getting involved as a potential liability.

Ignore them. Don't do anything illegal, of course. Their advice, however, should be ignored. The HR and Legal teams have a vital role - to ensure the company doesn't get sued. This leads them to be over cautious and make safe recommendations. Safe doesn't build relationships and it doesn't get results.

When they offer advice, smile, say "thank you" and then do what is right - not what is safest.