Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, employees at most non-essential businesses are working remotely. There are some advantages to working from home. It saves you a long commute and money. But it comes with its own challenges, especially during a pandemic.
If you live with your family or flatmates, there may be too many distractions at home during a lockdown. If you live alone, it can be isolating. In both cases, it is easy to blur the boundary between home and work.
But it is important for your well-being that you keep the two apart and strive for a work-life balance.
What is a work-life balance?
Keeping a work-life balance means not letting your job take precedence over your personal life. It means you can be productive and focused at work while not neglecting your well-being, personal interests and social activities.
Why is a work-life balance important?
While your work may require you to put in extra hours every once in a while, doing so on a regular basis may take its toll on your physical and mental well-being. Overworked employees are at a greater risk of burning out, being stressed and less productive. It leads to low morale and increased turnover rate and is detrimental for employers as well.
It can be difficult to take your mind off work when you are home 24/7, but you should avoid working past your work hours and/or on the weekends. When you are well rested and relaxed, you will perform better and feel more engaged with your work.
Here are some tips that employers and employees can follow to ensure that your company’s culture promotes a healthy work-life balance.
Tips for employers
Be realistic about the workload
While it is important to lay down clear deadlines for your employees, make sure you also set achievable goals. It is not easy to manage remote teams, especially if you are new to working from home. If you are still getting used to managing remotely, review your strategy regularly and cut out whatever practice is not working for you and your team. Here are some ways you can monitor and boost the productivity of your remote workers.
Allow flexible hours
Your office hours may have been from 9 to 5 before the lockdown. But it may not be possible for all your employees to follow the same schedule with children at home. Some may prefer to start work early and some later in the morning. This does not mean that everyone on your team should start work when they please. But you should allow for exceptions depending on individual circumstances.
Check in with your staff
Unless it is absolutely urgent, avoid sending work or emails to your staff after work hours. If you frequently spot an employee online after work hours or on the weekends, have a chat with them. Maybe they are having trouble segmenting home and work. They could also be struggling to keep up with the workload or the new remote work format. You may need to reassess their workload, provide them the support they need and/or encourage them to make time for self care.
Encourage self care
The COVID-19 pandemic also poses a mental health threat. Your employees could be stressed about finances, job security and/or the safety of their family. Or they may be struggling with loneliness and isolation due to the lockdown. Talk to your staff about the importance of self care, like getting enough sleep and exercise. Inform them about the available mental health care resources.
If you provide an Employee Assistance Program, remind your workers how to access it and what services are available to them.
Tips for employees
Stick to a morning routine
Avoid checking your office email and/or internal messaging app first thing in the morning. Instead go for a run, shower, get dressed and have a proper breakfast before you log into your remote office.
Manage your time well
Try to finish your work for the day within official hours. Be clear on your work priorities and break down your week into daily achievable goals. Log off your office email and messaging app after work so that you are not tempted to keep checking emails and messages.
Take short breaks through the day. Look away from your computer screen, enjoy the view from your window, stretch, walk around, get a snack from the kitchen, say hello to your family/flatmates. Take a proper lunch break during which you switch off from work. Eat with your family or watch your favourite TV series, if that helps you relax while you eat.
Set up a distinct workspace
If you have enough space, set up an office in a quiet corner of your house. Make sure the space is well lit and clutter free. Request your family to not disturb you at work unless it is necessary. While you don’t have to dress up in formals, try not to work in your nightwear.
Make after-work plans
Plan for any relaxing activity after work that you’ll look forward to. You could go for a run, walk your dog, bake, video call your friends or play board games with your family or flatmates.
Take care of yourself
Eat proper meals, sleep plenty, exercise, stay connected with your family and friends. Get help if you are struggling with mental health due to isolation during the lockdown. Sign up for an online activity class or course you’d enjoy studying. Volunteer remotely if you are by yourself and want to feel connected to a community.
Figure out what works for you
An airtight separation of home and work may not be possible for everyone. If you are taking care of young kids and your partner is working as well, you may still have your hands full after work. Or you may have to take unplanned breaks during the day to attend to their needs. Some of the suggestions mentioned above may work for you while others may not. Pick what does and find your own balance. Just make sure you get enough rest so that you don’t feel burnt out.
Looking for more information on a remote working policy for your business?
Download our remote working policy document to get started. For advice on how to maintain your business during the COVID-19 pandemic, call our experts today: 1 (833) 247-3652.