Remember the days when you wanted to cook something specific and you pored through your cookbooks and hoped it was in one of them? Or you wanted to make a family favorite and you called your Grandma and painstakingly wrote down the instructions as she read them off a food-stained piece of paper tucked into one of her cookbooks? When a cherished wedding or graduation present was a little box of family recipes hand printed on 3×5 index cards?

Now, if you want to cook a new recipe, many of us go to Google. We find 3,215 versions of the same recipe, most of which have 5 stars telling you they are the best, all with one or two ingredients just a little different. If you’re like me, you don’t just take one recipe and run with it, but you take a little of all of them and make your own creation because you can’t decide which you like best. And you might even throw in a few little cooking tips Grandma shared to really take it over the top.

             Almost overnight our work life has gone through a similar modernization but instead of taking 30 years for many of us it happened in 3 days! Many went from a routine of driving to work, finding parking, settling at our desks and being at work. When the day was over there was a clear demarcation as you packed up your bags and headed back to the parking lot.  There have always been urgent meetings and request from leadership that stretched the workday but there was still an open and a close and a standard recipe, like that trusted, oil and egg stained cookbook.

           Now our day starts with a different cadence and the, like Google recipe searches, the options are endless. Do we get dressed or work in PJs? Should we take our morning call on the couch, at a table, or walking the dog in the neighborhood? Suddenly there is a requirement to cook lunch, help kids with schoolwork, and attend a conference call simultaneously. And clear beginning and ends? Like Googling a recipe that used to be as familiar as Grandma’s Fried Chicken, there are now 3,215 ways your workday can play out.

           As we talk about how to “return” to work I challenge you to consider taking the Google Recipe approach and apply it to your work life. Take the best of all the different options, that you have now lived, for a great workday and make your new recipe. Take time to really think about what had you working at your best—when you were 100% present in a virtual meeting, when you were in “the zone”, when you were able to feel a clean and clear start and end to your workday. It feels really good knowing you killed it at the end of a workday—and I promise your family can tell the unspoken difference in a good or bad day when you return to them! Write down both what you have learned in the Pandemic work world and what you missed most from Pre-Pandemic work and create a plan for how you can translate the best of both worlds into a Cherished Recipe…it’s just around the metaphorical corner. Happy Cooking!