When work and home blur

Do you feel as if you never actually leave work? Are you finding yourself checking work email at midnight even when there’s absolutely no reason to?

Most likely, it’s the tell-tale sign you are working from home.

When ‘work’ and ‘home’ take place in the same physical space, it is easy for one to bleed into the other. This is an even bigger problem for people who never planned on working from home and simply don’t have a dedicated home office or space they can turn into one.

Even experienced remote workers can find that problems arise when they are forced to spend less time outside the home. All of this can lead to burnout, low productivity and increased levels of stress. Which, in turn, is not good for productivity, company culture and, ultimately, workplace or employee wellbeing.

If you’re nodding along to all of this, then it’s time to address your work-life balance. Here are some tips:

Set a schedule and stick to it

Work your normal hours, and when you’re done, walk away. If you can’t physically walk away, then stop checking your work email, turn off phone forwarding from the office if you can, and ignore work until the next day unless it’s a genuine emergency. Set boundaries with your coworkers and supervisors so they know not to, for example, call you after 5 pm. Most supervisors care about employee wellbeing (and you also help them set their own boundaries).

Create a dedicated workspace if possible

It might not be possible to create a dedicated space for work, but you should do so as much as you can. Keep your desk free of clutter, choose a place with good lightning and few distractions, and make sure that all of your ‘work stuff’ is confined to that area. Resist the temptation to work at the dining room table, on the couch or, worst of all, in bed. (Doing so can give you insomnia). Of course, if the weather is nice, feel free to take work outside. Fresh air and sunshine will help you mentally separate from your home.

Don’t use your work laptop for personal tasks or your personal laptop to check work email. This also helps you enforce your schedule.

Take Your Normal Breaks

It can be really hard to take breaks while working from home, but breaks are even more vital than when you are in the office. Make it a real break. Get yourself some tea or coffee, go out in the yard, take a walk, pick up a good book for a few minutes. Anything that will “clear” your mind of work concerns will increase employee wellbeing.

Particularly beneficial is doing yoga or short workouts as this also helps mitigate the harm caused by sitting for long periods. Oh, and take an actual lunch break. Schedule it. Set an alarm to make sure you take it. Too many people forget to eat when they don’t have coworkers to remind them. Make sure that you take enough breaks and schedule enough me time to show genuine care for yourself.

Get Out of Your Pyjamas

It sounds like quite a luxury – being able to relax and work in your pyjamas. Unfortunately, it’s also a really bad idea. When you’re wearing pyjamas, your brain is tuned to relaxation mode, and you just want to laze around all day, reducing productivity.

Put on the same clothes you would wear to the office (and not just when there’s a video call).

Fake a Commute

For most office workers, the morning and evening commute is a “dividing line” between work and home. Without that dividing line, you can feel as if you’re still at work when you sit down for dinner.

Faking a commute can be done in a number of ways. Some people find a walk around the block is useful, and it also gives you the opportunity to catch up on that audiobook or podcast you have been behind on. For others, it might mean working out after work instead of before, or going for a bike ride, or getting coffee to go. If you can’t leave your house, doing yoga or stretches might help you wind down and give a boost to your wellbeing.

Make Plans After Work

Make actual plans for your evenings. These don’t have to involve other people, although they certainly can. Schedule face-to-face or even Zoom happy hours with friends or coworkers, promise yourself a movie. Anything to give you a reason to stop working. When it’s safe to do so, go places, whether it’s a walk on your own or a meeting with your closest friends.

Increase Employee Wellbeing

Keeping a work-life balance when working from home is vital to workplace wellbeing and personal resilience. Avoid burnout by setting a schedule and boundaries and coming up with ways, such as a fake commute, to mentally differentiate work time from play time. For more information on how Instep can support your organisation, contact us now.


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