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Joe Szynkowski: Redefining work success as the pandemic’s dust settles
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Joe Szynkowski: Redefining work success as the pandemic’s dust settles

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“The pandemic showed me what I was missing at home.”

I was recently told this this by a business consultant who was used to traveling 80 percent of his work week before quarantine rocked his world. Every Monday, he hopped on a plane and traveled hundreds of miles from his family, not returning until late Friday night.

The weekend was an exhaustingly brutal game of catchup as he tried to reconnect with his family while also knocking off a few checklist items for his company before starting the cycle over again on Monday.

Why was he OK with this disruptive schedule for years?

“I was climbing the corporate ladder and landing bigger and bigger clients – it was tough to realize the impact my work was having on my family,” he said, more regretful than proud.

Then COVID-19 hit his industry hard and he found himself working from home like millions of other Americans. Fortunately, he maintained a healthy book of business and was able to sustain a steady paycheck for his family. 

He realized that he could work less stringent hours from home without missing a beat professionally. All of a sudden, he was more productive. He lost weight. He felt stronger mentally.

And most important of all, he found his family again.

Now, as the pandemic’s dust begins to settle, he’s after a more flexible, remote-based opportunity so he can pick up his kids from school and eat lunch with his wife. 

“I missed so much of my first child’s life, it makes me upset,” he told me. “I’m not going to let that happen with my second child.”

Finding a Balance

We’re about to see a massive shift in how workers define success in their professional and personal lives.

Are higher level management positions going to be as sought after, especially if a promotion means more meetings and less flexibility? Or will workers be willing to “settle” for roles that give them more of a life away from the office?

Once considered unattainable fantasies concocted by Millennials, things like “work-life balance” are coming up in more and more job interviews. Job candidates have gotten a taste of what many European companies discovered decades ago – people are more productive when they feel less shackled to their work.

I’ve seen many of my connections in European countries – I used to work for a business that was owned by a Swedish parent company – poking fun at American workaholism. “Europeans work to live and Americans live to work” is a common mantra.

Now Americans are starting to demand some promise of a flexible work life from potential employers.

Will companies accommodate? Or will candidates budge?

It’s going to be fascinating to watch.

Joe Szynkowski is a Sr. Director for NuVinAir Global, a Dallas-based company disrupting the automotive industry. Thanks to technology, he does so happily from his home east of Marion. Check out for his WorkHappy Spotlights or email for more guidance on finding career joy.


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