March 23rd 2020 was the day that the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson addressed the nation with a statement for us all to stay at home in order to protect the NHS and save lives. Millions of office workers were sent home to work for the unforeseeable future, adapting quickly to logging in to company network servers and zoom meetings.
If you are a remote worker, freelancer, or sole trader, for example, working from home (WFH) may not have been anything new. But for millions of working WFH newbies, it was a whole new working experience, and one which will never be forgotten.
Lets not dwell and fast forward to July 2021. You may have already returned to the office, but maybe with less colleagues. Or you may still be WFH? Or you may be working in a hybrid model where you work from the office and from home? Whatever your current working arrangements are It is apparent that none of us will be going back to a busy bustling office any time soon, as restrictions have been extended from the 21st of June to 19th July 2021 at the time of writing. Additionally, it has been reported that nine out of 10 workers who have worked from home during lockdown would like to continue to do so in some form.
With WFH becoming part of the new normal the lines between the office and home have become blurred and for some keeping work and home life separate can be a challenge. When your workstation is only a few feet away from your lounge, kitchen, or bedroom it can become quite easy to simply keep working answering one more email, finishing off a quotation or signing off another invoice. Working from home may also hold a host of distractions such as noisy neighbours, impromptu visits from family or friends, meaning that your productivity and concentration levels may drop.
It seems that whatever your WFH experience may be, there is always room for improvement, and it is for that reason we have created this guide on how to improve your work-life balance when WFH.
Before we go on to list these handy tips on how to improve your Work-Life Balance, we will look into what it is, and why it is so important.
What is Work-Life Balance?
In the simplest terms Work-Life balance is the amount of time and focus a person gives their work versus other aspects of their life whether it is raising a family, hobbies, relaxation, or anything aside from work.
By maintaining it, you will improve your overall happiness and wellbeing, which in turn contributes to a healthy environment.
The exact balance you have between your work life and personal life may vary depending on your age, career goals, and other commitments but no matter what work you do or what your responsibilities outside of work, it is worth keeping the balance as even as possible.
Why do I need a work-life balance?
A lack of work-life balance can take its toll in manty ways, physically, emotionally, and financially. Not only could it cause a break down in relationships, but it could also affect your work performance.
Here are a few reasons to pay attention to your work-life balance:
To avoid burning out.
In addition to creating problems in your personal life, working too hard could affect your career. You will never do your best work or find your flow when youre tired and short tempered.
To reduce stress.
A person who does not achieve a satisfying work/life balance can end up generating extra stress in their life. Lingering stress often causes side effects that can lead to health issues and personal distress.
To fulfil your personal and career goals.
You might believe the harder you work, the more you will succeed but this is not always the case. By not giving yourself a break, or setting time aside to relax, it could mean the quality of your work decreases, in turn jeopardizing your progression opportunities.
Now we have established what a work-life balance is and the reasons why a Work -Life balance important we will look at 8 ways to improve work-life balance when WFH:
1. Get Ready for Work
If you have traded your commute for a few extra minutes (or hours!) in bed, hitting the snooze button will not help your productivity throughout the day. In the morning, get yourself ready as if you are heading to the office. Make better use of that time by preparing a healthy breakfast, taking a longer bath, shower or exercising. Getting up later than usual and working in your pajamas will make you feel lazy and demotivated which almost certainly leads to a lack of productivity and low activity levels.
2. Create a Work-Only Zone
It is recommended by who add source if known to have a dedicated workspace to help you stay focused when working from home, or remotely, and this is important for switching off when the workday is over. Having separate areas for work and play also makes it easier to mentally move from work mode to home mode.
Even if you live in a one-bedroom flat or a studio, you can still create a dedicated area for different activities. It is important to establish these areas and boundaries, to avoid home life spilling over to work life and vice versa.
3. Be comfortable
Make sure your workspace is set up to maximize your physical comfort so that you can focus on the task in hand. Height adjustable workstations or sit stand desks as they are also known encourage the user to alternate between seated and standing positions. You will have more energy, experience reduced fatigue levels, and reduce the risk of injury caused by working in one body position for too long. To improve your workspace its worth considering:
• A smaller domestic style height adjustable desk -The Rapid Mini Height Adjustable Desk
• Keep your legs and feet moving whilst standing with - Anti Fatigue Mats
• A High Back operator chair with inbuilt lumbar pump support?
• Monitor arms It is now time to clear those makeshift books and shoeboxes.
• A domestic occasional chair - Sark Designer Armchair
4. Use communication tools to indicate your online and offline hours.
Once you have determined a daily schedule that makes sense for you and your team, use different tools to publicize your schedule so that your team or clients in different locations and time zones are mindful and respectful of that time.
You can set your work management software so you do not receive notifications before or after a certain time of day, and you can indicate your working hours on Google Calendar so you can automatically decline events taking place outside of your daily schedule. By publicizing your hours, your coworkers will be more mindful of your personal time and will hopefully send emails to schedule meeting times as opposed to you receiving a barrage of emails when youre not working.
It has been scientifically proven source if you have one? that by simply adding plants to your workspace it could help you to achieve a greater sense of wellbeing, reduce your stress levels, boost creativity, and make you more productive.
If you do not want to buy any plants, why not move some of your existing house plants to a place where you can see them? Creating a more harmonious home working space by introducing plants, can be a good way to improving your work-life balance. Our Novus Multi-Functional Steel Storage Shelving system houses planters, shelves and cupboards, a perfect addition to your home office!
6. Make plans for your after-working hours
If your living space and workplace are the same place, it can be hard to truly step away from work at the end of the day, even if you have closed your laptop and signed off. Unknowingly, people sometimes forget to log off whilst WFH at a certain time, whereas in the office we had certain triggers that indicated the end of the working day, such as colleagues leaving and cleaners turning up.
If you are looking to improve your work-life balance, make plans for after-work hours and stick to them. Whether the plans include happy hour drinks with a friend or attending a gym class, if you have somewhere to be at the end of your workday, you will be more likely to actually sign off and stop working.
7. Eat a proper lunch
It may be tempting when working from home to visit the fridge and cupboards more than you would in your workspace and this can often disrupt our productivity...and waistlines! This can be detrimental to our work-life home- life balance because our overall health could suffer as a result.
Within the office or workspace your routine will be more structured, and you would feel more compelled to take a proper lunch break in the middle of the day for 30 minutes or an hour, but when you work from home there are no coworkers or canteens to remind you to do so. By setting aside lunchtime for yourself, when WFH, you will be able to take a proper break from work to nourish yourself and recharge for the rest of the afternoon.
8. Get Outside Every Day
Sunlight is scientifically proven source if known? to impact your serotonin levels, so make sure you venture outside every day. Schedule time into the working day to go for a walk, enjoy nature, walk the dog, or do some more strenuous exercise. You will, almost certainly, return feeling refreshed, decompressed and energized to resume work.
Make Work-Life Balance a Priority While WFH
As previously mentioned, home working or remote working is something that some of us have had to quickly become used to and it is likely that we still have not fully embraced to this way of working to its full potential. We may still be experiencing problems or discomfort with home office furniture, workstations and IT and communications.
It is important to address these niggles because we do not want them to impact the quality of our work and work life balance. By creating a comfortable working environment and taking time for yourself, away from the home office desk, you will find a harmonious work balance that will work for everybody.
Here at Office Reality, we can help and advise you on any concerns that you may have whilst working from home WFH and can improve your working environment with a number of ergonomic and wellbeing product solutions. In addition, our wellbeing consultancy boasts a home office ergonomic specialist who carries out workstation and risk assessments for home offices.
We hope you have found this blog useful and can take some of these points on board to assist in improving your Work Life Balance whilst WFH.