Working from home: the new norm
People working from home is on the rise. Even before the pandemic, more companies were letting their staff work from home. But a recent study by S&P Global has found that 67% of employers surveyed plan to make the change permanent. Simply put, it is much easier to access work systems and people from just about anywhere than ever before. Working remotely allows employees to experience more flexibility when it comes to their work-life balance. No commute time, and typically less interruptions in your day. But working from home comes with its own disadvantages. Improving work-life balance while working from home is a key reason people often opt for it. So, how does a person that works from home maintain a balance between their home and working life, if they are raising a family? How has the corona-virus affected the work-life balance when it comes to working from home?
What does a work-life balance even mean?
Work-life balance is not a new concept, but it can mean different things if you are working from home or at a physical location. Work-life balance consists of your personal and your professional life surrounded by the activities you do for both. Keeping the two separated while you are working from when your home life and work life are in the same place can be challenging. So how you define work-life balance will depend on what is going on in your life, and how you separate it from work.
Employers are still responsible for staff well-being
Managers still need to be mindful for the health of their employees who work from home. Working from home can be stressful. Likewise, the work area needs to be physically safe and conducive to the work. People working where they live can be more productive and creative but may have a hard time switching off. So potential for staff burn-out also does not reduce, simply because they no longer have the daily commute.
Working from home problems
In order to improve your chances of successfully working form home, we need to identify common problems it can create.
> The main issue is balancing children, pets, and family demand when working from home. The best solution is to have a separate room or space for working. Ideally where you can shut the door and not be disturbed.
> Being physically separated from others can bring feelings of isolation. It’s not unusual to feel lonely, especially if you enjoy the social aspects of working with others.
> Working from home can have the opposite effect and decrease your work-life balance. You need to be able to distinguish where you spend your free time, family time, and when it is time to start and stop working.
> Staying motivated can be harder, without physical interactions found in a shared workplace.
> Time management can be more difficult for some without the physical structure of a shared workplace. [For detailed advice on improving your time management skills, see our article here.]
> It is easier to forget about taking regular breaks when working on your own.
Working from home solutions
On the other hand, working from home can be a great thing if you use best practices to keep yourself organized and focused. Knowing your current work priorities and responsibilities are key to success. Here are some solutions to help you have work-life balance:
> Create a workspace just for working. Preferably a room that you can shut the door, so you won’t be disturbed.
> Schedule your day like you would if you were leaving the house to go to the office.
> Have a start time and a finish time for working just like you would if you were going to the office.
> Set specific time to respond to emails and communicate with your teammates.
> Set a routine. Routines and schedules are effective and help you get some control.
> Communicate to your team members if you are needing anything.
> If you regularly socialize with co-workers during breaks in the office, how about setting up a video chat meeting at a semi-regular coffee time? It’s a great way to maintain work relationships when physically separated.
The Importance of a work-life balance
Work-life balance is important because we have to stay healthy, especially mentally. A healthy work-life balance means you are happier in general. When you have work-life balance and you are organized, you reduce stress, and you will feel more productive. This also feeds your creativity and motivation.
So, if you are new to working from home, there will be some adjusting to the new way you are working. Also, accept that work-life balance has been affected by the Coronavirus and the way we live our lives. Uncertainty and even some fear is okay. The rise in working remotely has for many employers been forced on them, if they wish for their companies to survive. Depending where you are, this may mean that your children are also home more than before. Having the right structure in your life where you can, is therefore even more important than ever to your own mental health and well-being.
To summarize, stress is common when it comes to working from home. So, keeping home and family life separate takes discipline. Staying organized and maintaining a schedule are keys to your success. Just because your home may become your workplace, does not mean it should take-over your homelife. Equally, your homelife will need to adjust while you are working.
For your own sanity and well-being, the following is recommended:
- Maintain your regular working hours. Communicate these with your work colleagues.
- Work from only your designated working area in the home.
- Make sure to take regular breaks. Make it online and social when you can.
- Stay connected by regularly communicating with your team.
- Disconnect once your workday is finished, and do not look at work emails before you go to bed.