Advice by David Price – Workplace Wellbeing Expert and CEO of Health Assured
While some people are returning to the office—braving the commute, getting more active and taking advantage of COVID-safe workplaces—plenty of others are continuing to work remotely.
It’s looking like the ‘new normal’ is here, and here to stay. Major multinationals like Google are guaranteeing remote work until summer 2021—and potentially, some of their employees may never return to the office.
Of course, this isn’t always possible. Many companies and jobs require an on-site presence. But with coronavirus still, a present threat and cases rising globally—it’s a good idea to minimise people’s exposure to those from other households.
Now, while remote working is perfect for a lot of workers—fewer distractions, no commute, their own, familiar kitchen to make brews in—for some, it’s a bit more complicated. And that can be because achieving a good work/life balance gets a bit trickier when you work and live in the same space.
With this in mind, here are a few three key ways to keep your work/life balance in tip-top condition. It works for remote working during the pandemic—but the advice will work out even as the epidemic subsides. After all, if this is the new normal, let’s all aim to get it right.
Make a space for work—and only work
Easier said than done for many—shared houses and tiny flats can make this difficult. But it’s vital to have a workspace in your home, where work begins and ends, and you only do work while you’re there.
One of the primary benefits of working in an office is the psychological effect that arriving has. Getting out of your car, or walking from the bus stop, causes your mind to shift into work mode. And the reception areas of big offices act almost as a liminal space—when you see your company’s logo picked out on a big, imposing sign, you know it’s time to get focused.
This is a lot more difficult to achieve when working from home. But one way to do this is by creating a specific work area—and making sure you leave well alone after work is done.
This can be a quiet corner, a spare room—if you’re lucky enough to have one—or even just a place at a desk in the bedroom.
Here’s a great tip for those without much space: when you log out at the end of the workday, cover your work computer. You don’t need anything fancy, even just slinging a towel over it will do. The act of removing that cover in the morning will have the same effect on your mind as approaching the office, and you’ll be in ‘work mode’—and when you cover it back up, it’s time to be at home again.
Stick to your work hours
It can be tempting when working from home to work a bit harder. Or even to slack off a little, if that’s the way you’re inclined (we hope not—and if you’re reading this, you’re probably in the former camp.)
Both of these are detrimental to a good work/life balance, however. It’s related to the above advice. You need to switch off, and you need to focus. Avoid multitasking—while it can be tempting to put on a load of laundry, or figure out a shopping list while you wait for a task to finish, you’re letting life encroach on work (and vice versa.)
Of course, this doesn’t mean you should be glued to your workspace from 9-5 on the dot. Remember, you’re entitled to the same breaks as you are when attending the office. Use them.
Stay in touch
Keep on talking! While you might not be in the same physical space as your co-workers, it’s essential to help them stay in the same mind-set as you are, so they can more easily keep work as work and life as life. Teams, Slack, Discord et al are great for back and forth chats, whether via text or video.
A major part of this is a morning greeting, and a goodbye at the end of the day. You’ll be surprised just how much these little formalities help to switch on to work at the beginning of the day and switch off at the end.