More and more, organizations are adapting their work modalities and environments, and therefore changing their employees’ experiences. Telework is increasingly encouraged in the current workplace, mainly to facilitate a better work-life balance for workers and optimize their levels of productivity. However, the working-from-home scenario of the past is much different than our new pandemic reality, where full-time telework is imposed.
Various factors can complicate working from home. These factors may include dealing with more distractions, having to care for kids (or other members of the family), technological issues, feeling disconnected from a team, or not having access to specific resources we usually have in the workplace. For many individuals, these factors add up to one significant challenge: finding and maintaining a sustainable balance between their work and personal life. Here are a few tips that can help set a healthy integration of your work and personal spheres:
- Create a designated workspace: If you have the space in your home, organizing a work station that allows you to have all the tools you need to do your work, is ergonomically friendly, and is not too close to main distractions is worth it. It can be as simple as reorganizing furniture or adding a separating curtain around your desk.
- Establish a flexible routine: Maintaining your typical routine might work best for you. If you are used to getting up, showering, eating breakfast, and walking to work, why not do the same steps before starting your workday at home? Keeping up with your usual routine will also ease the transition of returning to your workplace. However, if you find your regular routine does not match with your new reality at home, being flexible and creative with your schedule could help you find a work-life balance that fits better for you. For example, you may want to adjust your work hours to moments of the day when you feel most productive, or less likely to be distracted by familial obligations.
- Connect with colleagues: One of the positive benefits of being physically at work is connecting with colleagues in-person, celebrating successes together, and finding social support. Maintaining regular contact with your team is not only helpful for your work but can also be a great morale booster.
- Keep house chores for after work hours: You don’t need to take care of your to-do list at all times because you are at home all day. If you get overwhelmed with everything that you need to do with work and home responsibilities, separating the two can be very helpful.
- Take breaks: Personal and social breaks are essential, even when you are at home. Although many teleworkers usually would make time for a break while at the office, they won’t allow time to have one during work-at-home hours. Taking a walk, doing some stretches, calling a friend, eating lunch outside, or taking a coffee break will help to maintain focus and productivity, and a general sense of well-being.
- Avoid working after work hours: You don’t need to work more because you’re working from home. Maintaining clear boundaries with your work will help you to find a better balance.
- Communicate your needs to other members in your home: Signaling your needs and limits to other individuals living with you will help to maintain your work-life balance. It is ok to express your requirements – this will also allow others to respect your boundaries and express their own.
- Adjust expectations: It’s important to remember to adjust our self-imposed pressures and expectations. Given the current global climate, it may very well be impossible to be as productive as you wish you could be, and it is reasonable to experience lower motivation and higher levels of stress. Be kind to yourself, as your self-judgment is probably hurting more than it is helping.
Full-time telework certainly has its perks, but maintaining a satisfying work-life balance can be demanding as well. If this new reality continues to be challenging and causing emotional distress, don’t hesitate to reach out for support. Clinicians at CFIR are here to help you identify strategies that will improve your day-to-day work and life routine, and better manage the difficulties you are experiencing.
Dr. Karine Côté, D.Psy., C.Psych. is a psychologist at the Centre