Remote Working

Work:Life Balance & Remote Working

July 8, 2020

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During the lockdown, with remote working and lockdown, the mental wellbeing of employees has never been so important. When the home becomes the office, it’s easy for work:life balance to become distorted, which can lead to problems such as burnout, workplace stress and rising anxiety.

We have outlined some tips below on how you can make sure you maintain a good work:life balance to benefit your physical and mental wellbeing and your performance at work.

 

Prioritise your health

Presenteeism has become an increasing issue during COVID-19, with remote employees reportedly working up to an extra 28 hours of monthly overtime since lockdown began, according to research by Executive Grapevine.  As a result of this with reduced work:life balance, nearly a third (31%) of employees surveyed said they are now sleeping poorly, 30% have experienced rising anxiety and 24% admitted that their mental health has taken a turn. You can read more about presenteeism here.

 

If you are feeling physically or mentally unwell to the point where your work or functionality may be impacted, focus on improving your health and report your illness to your line manager appropriately in line with the terms in your contract. Don’t feel pressured to ‘turn up’ to work when you are unwell because you are remote working, the same conditions apply as if you were still working in the office.

An alternative to taking a complete sick day is flexible working. If you wake up feeling unwell or start to feel unwell during the day, negotiate a shift pattern with your line manager, for example, if you feel under the weather when you wake up, take an hour or so to recover and begin working after – as long as this has been approved by your line manager. Make sure you communicate with your team how you are feeling throughout the day so that they can help with your workload if necessary.

 

Don’t fear unplugging

It can be difficult to switch off from work, especially when the home has become the office. You may find yourself working late into the evening, constantly checking your emails and generally finding it hard to disengage with work after business hours.

When your working day is over, put your laptop screen down, switch off your work phone and log out of/mute any work-related apps or accounts you have on your personal devices. This way, the temptation to see if you’ve received a reply to your email, and update on a project or putting in a few extra hours work on a task becomes reduced. When your working day has come to an end, tidy up your desk space and perhaps implement the same ‘leaving’ actions you would do in the office to send signals to the brain and body that the working day is over. Another good leaving action is to physically leave your house at the start and end of the working day and have a walk to symbolise going to and leaving work.

 

 

Manage your time

Setting out to-do lists at the start of your week and each morning can help to prioritise the workload for the week ahead. By doing this, it becomes easier for you to follow a schedule and allocate your time efficiently, meaning that you should see a reduction in the number of hours you work overtime.

Try and schedule in regular breaks away from your desk and avoid having your lunch in the same room that you work in. Regular small breaks not only help boost mental wellbeing, but it also boosts productivity levels and work efficiency. Below is the Pomodoro technique which is a good practice to try.

 

Set boundaries at work

It is important that you take personal responsibility of maintaining your work:life balance. If work expectations and demands become too much, it is important that you speak up and let your line manager know to avoid stress and burnout. Employers need to be aware of where the pressures lie in order to address them and help spread out the workload if need be.

If you begin to feel as though you are working overtime quite often, keep a log of when and why and share the results with your line manager. Again, they can help to reduce pressure by seeing exactly why you are having to work overtime and can help you to focus your priorities for the week.

 

Create a routine

During the lockdown, several us have had our daily routines thrown out the window and we have had to start again from scratch. It’s important to know that maintaining a healthy working routine in the day can ensure you have a feeling of regularity and rhythm and can really help with switching off in the evening. Your body and mind will adjust to the time sin which you work compared to the times you relax. By doing this, you will start to notice that closing off at the end of your working day will become easier and will prevent you from losing track of time.

Even though trying to create a routine while in lockdown and remote working might seem hard, simple things like making your bed of a morning, tidying your workspace at the end of the day and taking a lunch break at the same time every day will help.

 

Set goals

By setting yourself mini, achievable goals throughout the days and weeks, you give yourself a target to aim towards. This again allows you to prioritise your workload in order to deliver business targets and personal goals. By doing so, your mental wellbeing will also become lifted as you will gain a regular sense of achievement – whether it’s crossing something off a to-do list or delivering results to the business.

Goals and to-do lists are a great way to micromanage your time, and if shared with your line manager it’s also a great way for them to manage and monitor your performance while remote working.

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