Tips to find the perfect work-life balance when working from home

eXo Platform Blog

Having been coping with the Covid-19 outbreak for over a year now, we can all safely say that we have become more or less used to strict lockdowns and to this overall new way of working. Obviously, being able to work from home during a global pandemic has helped many to stay safe, keep their jobs and even become more productive.

Having said that, it’s been a bumpy road for many others who – unsurprisingly – experienced the negative effects of prolonged periods of time away from the office and with little to no social interactions. These effects can be both physical and psychological and range from anxiety and stress to a sense of loneliness, all of which can in turn affect overall business performance.

Yet, probably the most frequent talking point regarding remote working during this period has revolved around finding the right work-life balance. As suggested by many studies, work-life balance is an important ingredient for the well-being of many employees. According to Statista, 72 per cent of employees were found to consider work-life balance as an important criterion when selecting a job (and that was prior to Covid-19).

Following the pandemic, work-life balance, or lack thereof, has been a major concern for both employers and employees. The uncertainty of the current situation coupled with mounting responsibilities (the pressure to maintain productivity while parenting, among others) blurred the boundaries between our working and personal lives. One S&P global and AARP study found that an increasing number of parents and caregivers are spending time taking care of their loved ones since the pandemic began last year, which makes it challenging to find the right balance and, in turn, contributes to an increase in their stress levels.

Obviously, a lot has been said and done about work-life balance lately. Some businesses took matters into their own hands by reviewing their working arrangements and leave policies, among others.

But what can we do to cope on an individual level and what lessons can we learn from the pandemic?

How do you manage a good work-life balance while working remotely?

  • Establish a list of objectives and priorities

It goes without saying that in order to get the best out of any given situation, it’s important to set a list of clear objectives and priorities right from the start. In this case, the main objective for us (remote workers) is to understand what’s expected from us during this period in terms of both our work and our personal responsibilities. It’s also crucial to mitigate the risks associated with remote working burnout and the severe consequences of an unbalanced working life.

A lot has changed in the last year or so. The overall situation is now more challenging, demanding and perhaps even overwhelming. A good place to start is to evaluate what matters for us and establish priorities accordingly. It’s worth noting, though, that these priorities depend entirely on our personal lives and our career paths and aspirations. To put it simply, prioritizing activities and setting objectives is by no means a one-size-fits-all process. For example, having personally worked remotely for significant periods of 2020 and even this year, my list of priorities – as a single person – differs considerably from the priorities of married couples with kids, for example. Each of us has a unique set of goals and responsibilities that will inevitably evolve over time, which means that we constantly need to review them going forward.

  • Keep and maintain a routine

Before the pandemic, we often associated routine with an unremarkable and uninspired life that everyone wants to break free from. You wake at the same hour, do the morning commute, work, do the evening commute, and try to preserve some time for yourself and for socializing.

As boring as it may seem on the surface, having a routine in general is extremely important to help us get through our working days, reduce our stress levels and keep our mental and physical health in check. Routine is also equally, if not, more important when we work from home. Generally speaking, stress arises when we have to make a decision, so the fewer unnecessary decisions we take, the more stress free we can go about our day.

So how can we establish a routine while working from home?

As surprising as it may seem, in order for us to establish a routine away from the office, we have to partially mimic a typical (or an ideal office) working day. That starts from the waking hours. As the morning commute is eliminated, we have a tendency to sleep more (which is a positive, depending on how you see things), but waking up late often leaves us with limited time to exercise and prepare for the day. We have all, at least at times, had a stand-up meeting in our pyjamas, which is not ideal because it adds an element of unpredictability and doesn’t put us in the right frame of mind to work and be productive.

The key here is to establish a morning routine designed primarily to help us get in the right mindset to start the day. Always try to wake up at the same hour every day and follow the same routine as you get ready. You don’t necessarily have to follow your usual routine (prior to the pandemic); rather, you can create a new one (and most importantly, stick to it).

The same goes for the evening routine. Once you finish work (preferably following your predefined schedule), try to make some time for yourself and your loved ones. With lockdown and curfews still in effect in most parts of the world, there isn’t much to do other than engage in some exercise, a movie, a good book or my blogs but … still better than nothing.

During the day, work on defining clear start and finish working times and try your best to stick to them. Additionally, you can use a multitude of tools that range from the obvious, such as Excel, or the more specific and innovative (such as habit-tracking apps), to plan and keep tabs on your activities and daily habits.

  • Time is money (learn how to manage it)

Now that you’ve established a daily routine along with a set of habits, it’s time for business. Unavoidably, a typical working day is full of unexpected events that shake up our routine. The key is to learn how to manage our time and not fall into the trap of working long and unnecessary hours.

As mentioned earlier, determining the start and finish time is a good place to start. But what about in between?

Well, that depends entirely on your job requirements, what you’re used to and, especially, the tools you (and your company) use to get things done. Undoubtedly, there are numerous time management techniques and best practices to choose from. For example, you’re probably familiar with the Pomodoro technique. Developed by Francesco Cirillo in the ‘80s, this method focuses mainly on cutting time into small intervals (ideally of 25 minutes) with short breaks of three to five minutes or longer in between. Using this technique can help you significantly increase your concentration and motivation levels.

Another way to properly manage your time is to plan your activities in advance and with detailed time estimates. You can use standalone calendar apps (for your personal activities) or your company’s digital workplace solution (for work). Either way, you’ll be able to create a balanced working schedule and stay organized and updated.

  • Healthy body = Healthy mind

As mentioned earlier, working from home for long hours can negatively affect both our mental and physical health. Compared to working from the office, remote working encourages us in a way to be lazy and inactive since we don’t have a morning and evening commute and we rarely go outside for lunch breaks or other activities. Add to that a busy schedule and we can find ourselves walking less than 500 steps a day (trust me, I’ve been there!).

That’s why it is important to dedicate specific times in your day for simple physical exercise and meditation as these can give you the much required boost of feel-good hormones, help you concentrate and avoid any unwanted long-term effects of an inactive lifestyle.

  • Create a dedicated working corner

During a typical remote working day, work on establishing clear boundaries between your personal and working life. The most useful advice I have been given was to choose any other area but my bedroom to work. This can be a spare room or a small office corner.

That way, at least subconsciously, you can associate that area with work and other areas of your home for yourself. And this works. First, having a defined working area has the potential to help you remain more focused and stay away from distractions. Additionally, once you finish work and leave work, you can easily switch off from work and concentrate on other things.

  • Learn how to switch off and unplug

We’ve all been there: you’ve just finished work (at your already predefined time) and you receive an email or a Skype message from your team. The ideal worker in each one of us will be tempted to respond – and depending on the situation – that might be your only option. However, work is a never-ending affair and responding to work emails or just staying alert to any upcoming emergencies, can take its toll on you mentally. That’s why it sometimes makes more sense to let go and switch off from work.

But how?

Let’s start with the obvious. If you have your productivity tools (digital workplace, messaging apps, etc.) installed on your phone, consider switching off your notifications once you’ve finished working. Another way to help you ease the pressure is to follow a certain ritual that will act as your evening commute, signaling to your brain that work is over (for me, it’s an evening walk to the grocery store  not a big deal – but it does the trick). Last but not least, to forget about work, you have to be engaged in another activity that will help you relax and completely unwind. Think about enrolling in virtual classes for any of your interests and hobbies, or calling a loved one – the choice is yours.

 

 

How do you manage a good work-life balance while Working Remotely?

Here are some tips on how to manage a good work-life balance and establish a routine while Working From Home:

  • Establish a list of objectives and priorities
  • Keep and maintain a routine
  • Time is money (learn how to manage it)
  • Healthy body = Healthy mind
  • Create a dedicated working corner
  • Learn how to switch off and unplug

Find out 6 Tips to find the perfect work-life balance when working from home


How to prepare and run effective remote meetings?

Here are 6 tips and best practices to prepare and run effective remote meetings:

  • Determine clear meeting goals
  • Put in place an agenda
  • Carefully select and limit the number of participants
  • Choose the right tools
  • Establish meeting rules and roles
  • Make sure to follow up and gather feedback

Find out the ultimate guide to successful remote meetings


How to Boost Your Productivity while Working from Home?

Here are 7 ways to supercharge your productivity when you work from home:

  • 1. Set up the right work environment
  • 2. Eliminate distractions
  • 3. Schedule and plan each day
  • 4. Take the time to understand your work tools
  • 5. Establish instant communication channels with your team
  • 6. Be wary of bad health habits
  • 7. Make the most out of your new flexibility

Discover 7 Tips for working from home that will supercharge your productivity

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Product Marketing Specialist

I am a product marketing specialist at eXo. My role is to assist marketing and sales teams in their operations and present our digital workplace solution to the world. I mainly blog about the latest tech trends, digital transformation, internal communication and how to navigate through eXo Platform.

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