While many businesses are encouraging employees to go back to the office full-time, three years post-pandemic, the employment landscape has changed everyone’s work setups drastically.
Remote and hybrid roles offer a whole number of unique benefits. From greater flexibility to less time commuting, forcing workers back to the office could be a bad idea. But what about work-life balance? While you may have more time to relax in the evenings, being at home can make it hard to switch off, meaning your home and work lives start to intersect and the line between the two can become blurred.
Struggling to strike a healthy work-life balance when working from home? Here’s what you need to know about balancing work and life as a remote employee.
What Is a Good Work-Life Balance?
Having a good work-life balance means being able to equally prioritize your work responsibilities alongside your personal life such as hobbies, social activities, and any other free time. Of course, there may be times when work overruns or you need to put in a little overtime, but generally speaking, your job shouldn’t majorly impact your personal life.
What constitutes a good work-life balance will vary between people — some may believe their personal lives are unimpacted despite clocking up regular overtime, for example, while others will feel that their job should never encroach on their evenings or weekends. It’s important to find a balance that works for you, which enables you to perform your role competently while having ample time for yourself, your family and friends.
Why Is It Important to Have the Right Work-Life Balance?
Statistics show that as many as 72% of people consider work-life balance when job-searching and for many, that means taking on a remote or hybrid role. However, even if you do have the flexibility of being at home, which can promote a healthier balance between work and life, being able to work remotely won’t automatically create a perfect work-life balance.
Even if you’re a self-confessed workaholic, everyone needs downtime, and here’s why:
You’ll Be Less Likely to Experience Burnout
Feeling like you have little control over your workload, taking on more hours than you can manage, and not being able to switch off can quickly and easily lead to job burnout. According to relationship support charity Relate, ‘grind culture’ has been embedded in our collective psyches, but setting workplace boundaries can help.
When you’re burnt out from work, not only can this affect your mental well-being, but by the time you’ve had a chance to recover over the weekend, you’ll be straight back at work! There has to be some separation between home life and work life. Strike the right balance and you’ll feel much happier and more productive in both areas.
You’ll Feel Happier in Your Job
Studies suggest that remote workers are 20% happier in their jobs, and this can only be a good thing for employees and their employers. A big part of this increased job satisfaction is the healthier approach to work-life balance that working from home creates, with long, stressful commutes eliminated, and employees able to take control of their own work environments.
But what about going a step further than simply working from home? Increasingly, businesses are embracing asynchronous working, which theoretically allows you to work from anywhere on the planet (an employer of record service through a provider such as Remote is also essential in enabling this). After all, what says “employee satisfaction” more than sitting down for work with a view of a sandy beach or snow-capped mountain?
You’ll Be More Productive
There’s a general misconception that the more hours you clock up across the week, the more productive you are — because surely more time spent working means more output? While that may be the case, there’s the old adage of working smarter, not harder. And in fact, frequently working over and above your expected hours might be an indicator of inefficient time management.
By prioritizing your personal life as well as your work, you can ensure the time you do spend at your desk is spent productively. What’s more, an overworked, stressed employee is likely to make more mistakes, engage in more conflicts, and take more sick days — none of which are particularly conducive to productivity.
5 Ways to Create Good Work-Life Balance at Home
Working from home can be a blessing, but you have to remember that you’re still doing a job — and this job needs to be separated from your personal life at home. Here are 5 ways to create a better work-life balance:
1. Create a Dedicated Workspace in Your Home
If you have your own office at home, great. A dedicated workspace helps you stay productive, and when you’re done for the day you can close your laptop, shut the door, and relax in another part of your house. However, even if you have limited space, you can still create a good work set up in your bedroom, living room, or dining room, for example. If possible, though, you should avoid working from your bed or sofa, as this can create bad habits — not to mention bad posture.
2. Remove Work Emails and Apps From Your Phone
There’s nothing worse than seeing a work email pop up on your phone when you’ve just finished for the day, or when you’re trying to enjoy some family time over the weekend. If you’re not required to, avoid downloading work apps to your personal phone, log out of your work email, and unclutter your social feeds from anything work-related. An seemingly urgent notification might otherwise be difficult to ignore, when you should really be enjoying your free time and putting work on the back-burner.
3. Always Take a Lunch Break
It might be tempting to work through your lunch when working from home, but having time away from your screen will help you feel less stressed, more productive, and can give you a fresh perspective on challenging tasks. Why is all of this important? Taking a break, even if it’s short, will prevent you from feeling totally drained and burnt out by the end of the day. Because let’s face it, nobody wants to spend their free time feeling like a zombie. Use your break to refuel with a tasty lunch, go for a walk, or even watch an episode of your favorite show.
4. Move Your Body
Going for a walk at lunch or midway through the afternoon offers a range of benefits. A poor work-life balance can mean you not leaving the house from morning through to evening, but adding a short stroll to your daily routine (and maybe popping into your favorite coffee shop on the way) can stop you from feeling so isolated. It might also re-energize you if you’re feeling a little lethargic and uninspired, meaning you can return to your workstation refreshed and ready to take on the rest of the day’s tasks.
5. Communicate With Your Manager
One of the common reasons why many people have a poor work-life balance is the pressure of not being able to say no. What will my manager think? Will I come across as lazy? These questions may be holding you back from communicating your issues with your manager. But the truth is, your manager wants you to perform at your best. By asking for more flexibility or explaining that the additional work you’ve been doing is taking its toll, you can work together to create a balance between work and home that’s better for everyone.
Given that we spend a significant portion of our lives at work, it’s important to strike a balance and avoid letting it consume every aspect of our existence. By prioritizing downtime and personal pursuits, you can recharge and return to work with renewed energy and focus. Don’t let work take over your life; instead, strive for equilibrium and give your personal life the attention it deserves.