Getting Work-Life Balance Right While Working Remotely
More companies have embraced remote work than ever before, and many of their employees love it. In fact, some are now demanding the ability to work from home or they'll go elsewhere. Some companies are reluctant to comply, instead asking for a return to the office or a hybrid arrangement instead.
A survey from Vox indicated that if an employer required them to return to the office, 36% of respondents would immediately start looking for a remote job. Another 6% indicated they would quit, even without having another job lined up.
While working from home has been beneficial to many, some still struggle with certain aspects of remote work, specifically work-life balance. Here's what experts had to say about about how to help employees find work-life balance while working remotely.
What Does Work-Life Balance Really Mean?
According to Ryan Vice, CEO of Austin, Texas-based Vice Software, it's important to be aware that people have a limited amount of time, energy and focus they can allocate before fatigue sets in.
"Work-life balance is how we distribute our limited energy, whether it be mental, physical, or emotional, between a job and everything else in life," he said.
For many people, the line between work and personal life can get blurry, especially when working from the comfort of home. The clear separation between the office and home has been broken due to remote work. However, work-life balance is possible, even if almost 70% of employees say that they now work on weekends.
It's important to first recognize that being successful in both our personal lives as well as our work lives is essential, said Abby Leibowitz, CEO of Charleston, S.C.-based Call Experts. "Work-life balance means being intentional about your choices so that you do not consistently choose one over the other," she said.
However, it's also important to recognize that balance doesn't necessarily mean a 50/50 split. "The ebb and flow of busy periods in all areas of life means that there will be times where certain aspects require more of your attention," said Michael Astreiko, CEO of San Francisco-based Synder.
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Remote Work-Life Balance Do's and Don'ts
Given the difficulties in creating a work-life balance while working remotely, experts provided some do's and don'ts to help achieve success:
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Do: Establish Boundaries
Clear boundaries don't exist when you work and live in the same location, so it's crucial to establish some. "Dedicate certain periods of time for being switched on, and time to be off and 'out of office' so to speak," said Astreiko.
While getting this perfectly executed may never happen, especially with work apps and emails on our phones, creating boundaries can help distinguish when it's time to work and when it's time to relax.
Do: Create a Dedicated Space
Another suggestion from experts is to create a dedicated workspace. "It's often helpful to have a dedicated space for work without too many distractions," Vice said. "That adds a bit of separation between the job and home life." This might involve turning a spare bedroom into an office, or at the very least creating a designated area with a desk where only work takes place.
Do: Get Outside
Without regular commutes, outside time may not occur as often as expected, so it's important to take time for a walk or to run a quick errand to break up the monotony. "When work and life happen inside of the same four walls, it can be nice to take a break and spend time in a different environment," Vice said.
While working remotely might seem the ideal time to multitask by watching TV while you work or spending time with family while sending a few emails, doing so can blur the lines even more and isn't that effective. "Rather than try to be with your significant others or family as you are also working, give each one focused attention," Leibowitz said.
Don't: Mix Work and Play
While remote work provides the flexibility to do other tasks during typical work hours, such as going to the gym when fewer people are there, that doesn't mean placing tons of activities in the middle of the day. Create a schedule that identifies dedicated hours for work and dedicated hours for relaxation. Sticking to it will help achieve the elusive work-life balance.