Over the last couple of years, the workplace ecosystem has changed in countless ways. Most notable is the shift towards more remote working. Many businesses have embraced the new-found flexibility and we have seen a change in the way the traditional office environment is viewed.
Naturally, remote working means there is a tendency for the lines between work life and personal life to be blurred and it is becoming increasingly more difficult to determine where and when work ends.
The benefits of remote working are vast. A more flexible schedule means there are improvements to employees’ mental health, and we can prioritise spending time with loved ones rather than embarking on the slog of the daily commute.
But flexible working is only a benefit if you’re capable of prioritising a healthy work-life balance in a virtual environment. We’ve pulled together our top tips on how to keep home and work separate when remote working.
Don’t Sign on The Moment You Wake Up
On work-from-home days, it’s tempting to roll out of bed at 8:59 am, trudge through to your home office, and open your laptop with bleary eyes and bed hair. Or worse still, pull your laptop into bed with you just to fire off that one quick email to start the day. It’s dangerous territory and one that should be avoided at all costs.
Implementing a morning routine gives structure to the start of the day – whether you’re going into the office or not. Take the time to wake up, grab your cup of coffee and enjoy your breakfast without a screen in front of you. Ask your loved ones how they slept and embrace a moment of screen-free time. Give yourself time to acclimatise to the day before diving headfirst into whatever is in store for you.
Dress for Work
It’s tempting to stay in your pyjamas all day when you’re working from home, or at least remain in some comfortable jogging bottoms and an oversized hoodie. Not only is this unprofessional if you have to jump on an unexpected client call, but it’s also not setting you up for the day in the best possible way.
Getting dressed for the working day can be a great way to define the boundaries between work life and home life. Physically preparing for the day can help transition your mindset from ‘home mode’ to ‘professional mode’ and you’ll feel more geared up for the working day ahead.
Keep Separate Devices
Technology is integrated in every part of our lives, and that means work often follows us around in our pockets at all times of the day. As a result, it’s more important than ever that we try to maintain digital distance between work and home.
All too often, this is easier said than done – especially if our job is based within the digital world and managing clients’ social media accounts is a top priority for your company.
Where possible, try to have work devices and personal devices. This physical separation between work-related activities and personal ones makes it easier to disconnect at the end of the workday.
Work in your Workspace
When working from home first became a ‘thing’, lots of us were forced into working from our dining room tables or sofas.
One of the most beneficial things employees can do for themselves is to have a dedicated workspace to clearly define the parameters between work and home.
If you don’t have space to set up an entirely separate home office, consider having one item that is linked to working from home. A good option is a desk chair – the ideal piece of furniture to get you in the zone. Even if you are required to work from your dining table, pulling up the desk chair will signify a work environment for you and remind you this is a specific place to get work done.
Plus, your back will thank you for giving it the support that the Ikea dining room chairs didn’t…
Take Up Hobbies
It’s important that you take time to establish a work-day routine when remote working and within this time, account for non-work-related activities. Setting a time to start and finish your day is great, but we all know that sometimes things overrun, or you get swallowed up in a task before realising it is time to wrap up for the day.
Where you can, be consistent with your working hours, and communicate this clearly with colleagues and clients. Consider having a note of your working hours in your email signature or pop an out-of-hours email on when you’re not available.
Pursue hobbies, exercise, leisure activities, and other things that make you happy to ensure you unwind and switch off from work properly. If these activities require you to leave the house, even better. Get the breathing space you need before work blurs too heavily into your home life.
The overarching rule when it comes to remote working is being consistent.
Remote working is an opportunity to gain control of your life and schedule, so set yourself some rules and stick to them to lessen the probability of work bleeding into your personal territory.
If you want to embrace all the benefits that remote working offers, spend time creating habits that foster a healthy work-life balance and stick with them. Be open to change but dig deep to find that discipline; it will improve your productivity and well-being in the long run.