As we reflect on 2021, it’s important to look at the successes from the year gone by. While many of us continued to cobble through work-life through the lens of the pandemic, it provided opportunities in the work world that we should acknowledge.

Most importantly, employers embracing flexible working saw the benefits with a significant increase in outcome-based work culture (as opposed to hours or location-based) and early evidence that suggests less risk of burnout for their employees. A recent survey we conducted with our Daisy Chain community found that flexible working is the main reason employees choose to work for certain companies, followed by salary and location. Plus, many of us got more quality time with our children, the primary reason our community seeks out flexible work.

In addition, mental health came to the forefront regarding employer/employee relations.

As the Harvard Business Review outlined in October, ‘One silver lining amid all the disruption and trauma is the normalisation of mental health challenges at work. In 2019, employers were just starting to grasp the prevalence of these challenges. In 2020,
mental health support went from a nice-to-have to a true business imperative. Fast forward to 2021, and the stakes have been raised even higher thanks to a greater awareness of the workplace factors that can contribute to poor mental health.”

How can we take inspiration from the positive leaps in the work world from the past year, and look to our work life in 2022 to set out on a year of balance and success, two things that can coexist?

Here are some ideas for starting your 2022 on the right track:

1. Employers that aren’t embracing flexible working will soon be left looking antiquated. Use this as your opportunity to approach your employer about a flex scenario (if you don’t already have one) or seek out a new opportunity that embraces flexible work. This could mean, for example, compressed hours, staggered start and finish times, or job sharing. Flexible work is a way of working that suits an employee’s needs.

2. Set your boundaries and be aware of the impact on you and others if you don’t meet them. Share them with your partner and with your manager so they can be aware of and support you.

3. Truly embrace self-care. I love how Olivia Bath from the Women’s Vault suggests ‘micro-moments’ – whether this is a step outside to inhale the fresh air or sitting down with a hot drink away from your computer for 5 minutes. Small moments
can have a big impact.

4. Be curious. Curiosity is such a wonderful trait that increases your knowledge and shows your interest in others and your surroundings. Commit to asking questions about anything you don’t understand or want more information on related to your
role, the company, your tasks within the role.

5. Stand for what you believe in. Whether this is flexible working, more attention to diversity, equity and inclusion or mental health practices in the workplace, or specific ideas related to your role, putting a stake in the ground and firmly sharing your beliefs is empowering, breaks down stigmas and stereotypes and can spark real change.

6. Acknowledge that we’ve come through a lot of change. As my friend, Elaine Carnegie, of workplace wellness consultancy, Beingworks, says, ‘We can essentially fit our Covid-19 journey into the Kubler Ross change (grief) curve. Despite the current situation, we are moving into the reconstruction phase. Grief and endings are stressful, but new beginnings (such as hybrid working) hold promise, so we need to balance mourning with moving on. 2021 has seen the biggest shake-up in work practices in our lifetime, and that holds so much optimism and hope for the future.’

7. Lean into your trusted and valued relationships in 2022 and prioritise them. Both at work and in your personal life. Community, networking and mutual support only serve you and your peers well.

8. Consider your personal brand. This should be considered whether you’re in a long time role or searching for a new one. Having an established, clear, and confident personal brand will help people understand what you stand for, making
them think of you more often for opportunities, networking, etc. Do this by wearing what makes you feel most confident in yourself, by consistently stating your beliefs (per tip #5!) and ensuring all of your personal touchpoints (like yourLinkedIn, your CV, etc.) are up to date and polished.

2022 is a new year, and it’s a wonderful opportunity to look at where you want to go. By focusing on the positives from 2021, the things we learned as a society, and the things you learned that worked or didn’t work for you as an individual, you can start the year off on a path that makes you feel set for success.