All around the world, employees have felt the strain of working from home. Many employers have needed to adjust to the new needs of their teams, which includes a better work-life balance.
Pre-coronavirus, managing a good work-life balance was much easier for many, as they were able to leave their work at the office door and had adequate annual leave, this balance was simple to maintain. However, there were many who struggled with turning their work brain off before working from home, and now find the balance even more elusive.
Due to lockdowns, the once distinct lines between work and home have been blurred. Many individuals working, living, and relaxing in the same environment without the previous defined aspects of life have suffered reduced mental and physical health. Numerous workers have also had to compete with the added strains of remote schooling, caring for vulnerable family members, and living alone during isolation periods.
As staff were not allowed to enter their usual workplaces, employers had to find solutions to make remote working is a possible. This took many forms across different industries, but after months of adjusting to a new normal, many are reluctant to return to pre-COVID working conditions and will be searching for a combination of the two.
A survey conducted by the CIPD found that employers are expecting the proportion of people regularly working from home to increase to 37%, which is significantly higher compared to 18% before lockdown.
For those looking to regularly work from home, the question of how to better manage the work-life balance has never been so important. Ensuring that you can effectively separate your work and your personal life is the key to balancing your time and preventing the need to be ‘always-on’. But how can you do that?
Establish a routine
The first place to start is to map out your days to determine what times you should be starting and finishing work. Creating specific work times, including a set lunch break, will help simulate your regular work day and encourage you to stick to your schedule. Finding something to break up your work and personal times can help create separation, such as going for a walk once you wrap up your working day as it can act as a replacement for your regular commute, as well as having added health benefits!
Keep to time
It can be difficult if you’re prone to running over time, but it’s important to be strict with yourself and aiming to start and finish at your specific times. If you don’t allow yourself personal time, you run the risk of never feeling like you’ve finished work. Letting others know when you plan to start and finish your work day also sets expectations of when you will and will not be available. Closing your emails and work chats once your day is done also prevents you from checking on them after you’ve finished working and picking them up later.
This option may not be available for everyone, but having a dedicated space set up for your workstation can make a huge difference in your productivity. Making sure that the area you do work in is quiet and somewhere you’re not likely to be interrupted helps keep distractions to a minimum so you can finish on time. It also helps by creating a physical separation between your work and home life, which is incredibly useful if you have trouble visualising the boundaries between work and home.
If you don’t have the means to create a dedicated homeworking space, encouraging anyone you live with to give you some space while you work can help minimise distractions. Sitting in the same spot every day will also help normalise your routine and help you get into the working mindset.