If you are working remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it may feel like work is taking up all your time.
Through this piece, you will learn how to separate your work and personal time, as well as how to avoid professional isolation.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people were forced to work from home for the first time. While there are several benefits to working remotely, it also poses special challenges. Consider the following tips for maintaining work-life balance and for avoiding professional isolation.
The pros and cons of remote-work experiment
Before the pandemic, research indicated that remote work could increase employee job satisfaction, enhance their commitment to the organization, and even slightly improve their performance. Telecommuting can also reduce work-related stress and tension, possibly due to a reduced need for transportation or more flexible hours.
Other benefits include lower transportation costs and more freedom to work independently.
However, there have always been downsides to working remotely, including social and professional isolation, reduced opportunities to share information, and difficulty separating work and personal time.
The lack of physical separation between the occupational and family domains can lead to the intrusion of family obligations into work duties, or the impact of work duties on family time.
This can result in employees continuing to work after office hours to demonstrate their dedication to work, leading to burnout. The ability to constantly connect to electronic work systems can also result in employees feeling like their work hours are endless, or unable to take a break from thinking about work at the end of the day.
New challenges associated with remote work may emerge as a result of the pandemic.
People who are not accustomed to working from home may not be accustomed to being isolated from their colleagues; they may not have an office at home or suitable home space to do work. With other family members at home as well, including children or a husband or wife, it can be very difficult to avoid distractions and interruptions.
In their quest for privacy, employees may find themselves in an awkward situation and have to conduct meetings from the bedroom or kitchen. It’s not always easy to set up virtual meeting technologies to work properly. These challenges can cause anxiety, stress, and frustration.
How to avoid occupational isolation while working remotely?
For working from home, the biggest challenge may be the lack of an element of personal interaction with colleagues. When working remotely, employees cannot see their managers, staff, or colleagues in the corridors of the organization or in the cafeteria, for example.
As a result, regular communication via email, phone calls, and virtual meetings has become crucial. To compensate for the lack of social aspect as a result of working remotely, for example, you can set aside a specific time at the beginning of meetings to allow colleagues to interact with each other.
One idea that managers can consider is to set aside a regular five-minute time to check on each employee, even if there is no urgent matter at work to discuss.
For employees, consider scheduling virtual meetings for lunch and coffee, to pursue joint projects, and to maintain your relationships with them. Online communication platforms can also help keep you in touch with your colleagues throughout the day.
Remote Work’s Effect on Life Balance
The key to work-life balance for those who work remotely is the ability to set boundaries between your work and your personal commitments. How to get started?
Establish a consistent routine
Create habits that help you mark the beginning and end of your workday. For example, make your bed and get dressed every morning as if you were going to the office.
When you finish working each day, change your clothes, drive your car or walk outside — mimicking your routine when you come back from work — or engage in activities with your children. You may also benefit if you start and finish your work around the same time each day.
Take care of yourself by eating healthy and exercising. By becoming accustomed to resisting various temptations, you will develop a resolve you can count on when you need discipline in separating your work and personal life.
Talk to your manager
Discuss with your manager what they expect of you about working time and the obstacles you might encounter at home. Ask your manager when you can stop checking work email or stop responding to work requests. Or, agree with the manager on an alternate, flexible schedule that allows you to spend time caring for your children during the day while making up for working hours at other times.
Talk to Your Family
If you work from home and your family is in the same house as you, try to agree with them about not interrupting you. If your kids are young, you’ll likely need to remind them regularly when you’re busy and can’t play with them, as well as come up with fun activities that keep them occupied.
If there is more than one person able to take care of them at home, you can take turns taking care of the children. You can also remind family and friends of times when you can or can’t talk on the phone or text.
Think Before You Send Email
When working from home, your use of email or work text messages may increase as they become the main means of communicating with colleagues. Reduce the burden on your colleagues by making it clear whether the request you sent them was urgent or important.
If you are in a leadership position at work, think about how your employees’ ability to relax and enjoy their personal time will be affected if you emailed late at night.
Set Your Business Priorities.
Focus on the most important work to be done. Working without a break is not good for you or your family.
Working from home requires patience, creativity, and perseverance. Keep experimenting to find the best coping techniques during this uncertain period.