In the past year, more people have started working from home than ever before. The COVID-19 pandemic closed down businesses and many of those still standing strong are now working remotely. While most people are happy to work from the comfort of their own home, it also makes it difficult to separate work from personal life. In US, no less than 7 in 10 remote employees are struggling to achieve a healthy remote work life balance during this pandemic.
Achieving remote work life balance
A study by the Harvard Business School discovered that since the beginning of the pandemic, remote employees are working longer. The average workday increased by 48.5 minutes. Employees also participate in more meetings and send more emails, of which 8.3% outside of business hours. However, it is unclear whether that time means extra work, or whether is making up for the interruptions caused by personal matters during the day.
Ideally, everyone should strive to achieve a satisfying remote work life balance by not letting one prevail over the other. In general, work-life balance means that your personal life and work should not conflict with one another. But doing that while working from home during a once-in-a-century pandemic might not just come naturally. You need to take charge and make that happen!
I hope that the solutions presented below will come as an aid in your pursuit of a healthy work-life balance.
1. Set clear boundaries
The first and most important thing you need to do is setting clear boundaries between what is work and what is personal. One way to do that is by treating work the same way you did when working at the office. Put on some clothes – not necessarily a suit, but not the pajamas either, prepare your lunch in advance, and go to your desk. Make sure you are not interrupted too often, avoid taking personal phone calls, stay away from social media, etc. Keep a professional behavior during work hours.
“Unless you really are able to create distinct boundaries between your life and your work, it’s almost inevitable that we see these blurring lines.“Raffaella Sadun – Professor of Business Administration at Harvard Business School
Once work is done, distance yourself from anything related to your job. Don’t check your emails, don’t make work-related phone calls, don’t work too late into the night, and definitely don’t work during the weekends! Treat your personal time with the same seriousness as you treat your work. You can only achieve a healthy remote work life balance if you value them both equally.
2. Create a workspace
Working from the couch with the laptop on your knees might be tempting. However, it is also very likely to give in to distractions. It is the perfect spot to procrastinate watching videos, browsing social media, or even dozing off.
Create a dedicated workspace where you can get into the flow and are less likely to be distracted or interrupted. Your work area should have plenty of natural light, and preferably should be in a quiet part of your home. Of course, ideally, your workspace should also be comfortable, but not as comfortable as your bed. 🙂
3. Have a schedule
Balancing work and personal life in the same space is not easy. You can’t just leave the work at the office, as the saying goes. That’s why you need good control over your time. You play different roles at different times, in the same space. Make sure you have those times clearly defined. Mixing them up is likely to create chaos and affect both your work and your personal life.
Adhering to a schedule makes you a reliable team player for your workmates. It also sends the message that you have strong work ethics. From the perspective of your personal life, it prevents you from taking personal time to perform work tasks.
4. Prioritize communication
Staying in touch with others while going through this pandemic is mostly done online. Make sure you have the right tools in place to maintain constant communication with your team and loved ones.
Use team communications apps, such as Hubgets, to cover all your work communication needs. Share your work schedule with your team, and make sure you stick to it. Keep your private life separate by using different communication tools, at different times.
5. Avoid multitasking
While working remotely, it is important to separate your working hours from your personal time. Multitasking is one of the biggest temptations for employees working from home. Working while cooking lunch or eating while you’re working might seem harmless. However, studies show that focusing on more tasks at a time could impair your cognitive ability. Switching your focus from one task to another affects your performance, making you more prone to distractions.
Besides that, juggling work and personal matters at the same time is not the best way to balance work and personal life. Both your team and your family deserve your undivided attention. It’s not fair to either of them and not even to yourself, to do things otherwise.
6. Change the scenery
Isolation fatigue is real. Many of those who have been able to work remotely in the past year haven’t left their house too much. Working in share hubs or cafes is a risk not worth taking, because of the virus. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t change the scenery to get out of the rut.
One day a week you can take your laptop and a garden chair, go to the nearest forest and work surrounded by nature. If that’s not possible, arrange a small spot in your yard, or even on your balcony. This is a great way of taking care of yourself while working.
Balance is key
As with everything in life, achieving a healthy remote work life balance should emphasize balance. Find the equilibrium that works for you by treating your work and personal life as equals. Set clear boundaries between the two and don’t let one prevail over the other.
Imagine growing two plants in separate pots. Feeding one more than the other will make it grow taller and overshadow the other. Give them equal love and you will be able to enjoy both of them for a long time. Balance is what will bring you harmony.