For many people, the privilege of working from home has had its perks. This arrangement has given at-home workers greater time flexibility and has eliminated travel times to and from the office. Many report feeling less commuter stress and greater satisfaction with the extra time they now have throughout the day.
However, working from home has also been incredibly challenging for others. Finding a balance between work and life can be tricky when your office is in your own home. Being able to unplug and find a space to unwind under these circumstances can be tough, leading many workers to suffer from poorer work-life balance and greater stress and dissatisfaction. A New York Post study found that 65% of Americans are working longer hours during this pandemic, and nearly 70% report struggling to maintain a healthy work-life balance.
With all the added stressors of working from home, it’s critical for employees to find ways to separate their professional and personal lives. Here are a few strategies to help you achieve a healthy work-life balance when working remotely:
Give Yourself Time to Adjust
You might not have expected to be working from home for so long, so take the time to think out how to make this work in the long-term, not just with temporary fixes. Giving yourself the time and patience necessary to find a balance is a great first step. Accepting that there will be bumps along the way and that you’ll need to find alternatives for things like socializing and teambuilding are very important. These adjustments take time and effort and require us to think outside of the box for new ways of working.
Follow a Routine
According to a Duke University study, up to 40% of our behaviors or actions on any given day are driven by habit. Activities like waking up at 6:00am every morning and having our dinner right after work are reinforced by repetition, and this can set us up for living a consistent and balanced lifestyle. Similarly, incorporating a routine can establish a foundation for success at work, whether we’re at home or in the office.
One great way to create a work routine is to wake up at the same time every morning. In addition, scheduling consistent blocks of time for work can aid in building good productivity habits. Marking beginnings and ends for these blocks can help you set boundaries for work, and it can quell some of the anxiety that you may experience when you feel that you should be working. Finally, incorporating breaks throughout the day can prevent burnout and exhaustion and can help you plan for a more balanced workday.
Make Time to Socialize
Working from home has seriously altered how we socialize. We don’t see the same faces that we used to, and many of us spend the majority of our time working alone. This social deprivation can be tough and can dramatically decrease both our work productivity and the quality of our personal life. Annie McKee, author of How to Be Happy at Work, put it best when she stated that “Relationships and friendships at work are absolutely critical to happiness, engagement, and productivity in the workplace.” So what do you do when everyone is separated and working remotely?
Making time for social interaction should be one of our biggest priorities right now. Scheduling phone or video calls with friends, family, and coworkers can go a long way to replace run-ins with colleagues and after-work meetups with friends and family. Managers can also play an important role by scheduling regular check-ins with their employees, showing appreciation when a team member does something well, or by leading their teams with a personal and understanding attitude.
Have a Separate Area For Work
Having a space in your home that is strictly for work can help you create a physical separation between your personal and professional lives. Whether it’s a desk in your room or a home office, this designation is important for helping you switch off once the workday is over. This also makes it easier for you to enjoy spaces like your bedroom or living room couch because you won’t associate these areas with work. While you can’t work in the office like you used to, you still have the power to get creative and assign a distinct workspace that works for you.
Ask For Support When Needed
Finally, don’t be afraid to ask for support from your employer when needed. Transitioning to working from home can be a long and arduous change, and sometimes we may need some help along the way. Whether you need more tech assistance or more consistent interaction with your coworkers, communicating your needs to your boss or manager can get you started with addressing your needs. Likewise, managers should be prepared to provide support and accommodations for their team in new and inventive ways.
These changes will require some extra steps of planning, but they can be a necessary tool for helping employees find greater balance and satisfaction with their work and home lives while working remotely.