More and more companies are embracing remote work in recent years and work-life balance is more important than ever. Remote work has many benefits, but it can also be challenging if you don’t set healthy work-life boundaries. 

With the rapid spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), employees struggle to maintain stability in the midst of the constantly-changing news and reality that this virus has become our new normal. So the question is: how do we balance this new working environment?

For an employee, there’s many benefits of working from home. First of all, commute times are reduced to zero which results in a few more hours in the day for people. Besides the freedom from office distractions, they can still wear their cosy clothing and slippers. However, working from home isn’t without its challenges. 

Working from home tends to make it difficult for employees to separate work from home, which can lead to one of two outcomes. As a result, they may not know when to stop working, leaving themselves at risk of burnout. On the other hand, there’s a chance that they will not fully reach their stride in work mode and will not achieve as much as they could.

Here are some useful tips to achieve work-life balance when working from the comfort of  your home:

Establish a regular start and finish time

If you’re working from home, it’s important to have a regular start and finish time. It will not only give your day structure (which you need), but it will also make it easier for you to collaborate with co-workers and establish boundaries with them around your availability. The last thing anyone wants to do is a conference call at 7PM because they didn’t begin their working day until lunch.

Block out periods of time

Work blocks of time like you would in an ordinary working day and structure your day accordingly. There’s nothing wrong with doing a load of laundry here and there, maybe even unpacking the dishwasher, but the longer you’re away from your desk, the longer it will take you to get back into the ‘work mode’.

Make a to-do list to start your day productively

In addition to crafting a specific structure for your day, curating to-do lists are helpful to ensure that you’re being productive and accomplishing what needs to be done in your role. Physically crossing tasks and projects off a to-do list can be gratifying – especially if you are questioning your productivity levels and progress.

Establish a designated work area

Provide yourself with a dedicated work area. You may find it difficult to separate work from home while working from the kitchen table, your living room, or your bedroom. When you are at home, your subconscious mind is in ‘relax’ mode, which is not where you want to be when you should be working. 

Furthermore, unless you live alone, it’s likely that you’ll share those common spaces with someone else and if somebody else is watching TV while you’re trying to work, that can be incredibly distracting.

Set boundaries

Take your space when you can and communicate your needs, time restraints and work schedules clearly and ahead of time. As soon as you have set up your designated workspace, close the door. 

Another helpful way to set boundaries is to make the choice to wear your work clothes or uniform during the hours you are working.  This can help to send yourself a signal you are in work mode and assist you in staying focussed on work related matters and minimise blurring of boundaries between work and home life.

There are so many distractions, such as children running around the house, partners chatting on the phone, or even just listening to a washing machine running somewhere in the background. Closing the door sends a message to your family and yourself that you’re in work mode and you need to be left alone.

Minimise distractions

Minimize distractions as much as possible. If you’re working from home, you’re most likely working on a computer. There are many distractions on computers. You may be distracted by everything from YouTube to Facebook to news highlights popping up in the corner of your screen. Close all non-work-related tabs and turn off all those. 

Take breaks

As with what you would normally do at work, take regular breaks. Taking a morning tea break, lunch break, and afternoon break every day will help you stay focused. This will not only keep your energy levels up, assuming you’re making healthy choices with your snacks and lunches, but it will also make you move more. 

The majority of people who work from home spend most of their day at their desks, so their bodies are not moving as much as they normally would. Even better, get up and walk around outside.

Seek additional help from a psychologist

In the context of work, it is evident that the COVID-19 crisis will redefine what “normal” means. The sudden shift to remote work destroyed the physical and psychological separation between home and the office, compounded many everyday stressors, and created some new ones. Now that working from home is either mandatory or an option at many companies, many individuals are rethinking how they feel about what was once considered the ultimate employee perk.

Remote work can negatively impact wellbeing and professional satisfaction in novel and surprising ways. But remember that no problem is too big or too small to see a psychologist to discuss if it is causing you distress. 

In fact, addressing “smaller” problems can quite often stop them from becoming “bigger” problems down the track. The earlier you are able to address a problem, or even manage problems before they arise, the easier it will be to continue to live a productive, meaningful and enriching life.

If we believe you may benefit from other or additional services, we are able to assist you to locate these resources and work in a collaborative approach to managing all aspects of your health. Contact us at Strategic Psychology to further discuss your needs, we look forward to working with you to assist you in living a meaningful, enriching life.