In 2022, companies are embracing remote work options more than ever before.
And work-life balance is more important than ever. Remote work comes with a wide variety of benefits, but it can also be a challenge if you don’t set healthy work-life boundaries.
In this article, you’ll discover:
- What Is Work-Life Balance?
- Why Do You Need to Set Boundaries?
- How to Set Healthy Boundaries to Get Work-Life Balance?
Let’s get started:
What Is Work-Life Balance?
In simple terms, work-life balance is an idea that you need time for both work and personal life, whether those are family-related or personal interests.
According to Wikipedia:
“Work-life balance is the lack of opposition between work and other life roles. It is the state of equilibrium in which demands of personal life, professional life, and family life are equal.”
Maintaining a work-home life balance helps reduce stress and helps prevent burnout in the workplace.
Maslow’s said that people have needs, which had to be met in order. Here’s Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs:
Take a moment to see this pyramid. Let’s break it down:
Work helps you to get basic needs: A regular income source provides food, shelter, and safety. Work also allows you to belong to a group, and doing well at work boosts self-esteem. The lower levels are all met mainly through aspects of working.
But work alone doesn’t help you to achieve needs (Self-actualization, creativity, and art) at the top of the pyramid. That’s why leisure time and lifestyle have become important.
In the next section, you’ll see why work-life balance is important and why you need to set healthy boundaries.
Why You Need to Set Work-Life Boundaries
Remote workers face some common challenges such as stress, loneliness, and anxiety. And it can reduce their productivity and mental well-being.
More than 38% of remote workers struggle to achieve a healthy balance between work and home life.
These numbers clearly tell that remote employees have it worse.
This study suggests that growing numbers of employees around the world are feeling increased stress and need improved techniques for managing their work-home balance.
This is why setting boundaries is more important than ever before. Brian Dyson, former Vice Chairman and COO of Coca-Cola, put it beautifully:
“Imagine life as a game in which you are juggling some five balls in the air. You name them – work, family, health, friends and spirit and you’re keeping all of these in the air. You will soon understand that work is a rubber ball. If you drop it, it will bounce back. But the other four balls are made of glass. If you drop one of these, they will be irrevocably scuffed, marked, nicked, damaged, or even shattered. They will never be the same. You must understand that and strive for balance in your life.”
We all know the importance of leisure time. However, we struggle to disconnect from work and set a clear boundary between our digital and physical worlds.
According to Buffer, 22% of remote workers struggle with unplugging from their work.
Work-life balance involves a mixture of time management, commitment, and (most importantly) prioritization.
Research has shown that the lack of a healthy work-life balance can result in a variety of stress factors, including Fatigue, discouragement, heart disease, high blood pressure, depression, unhappiness, anxiety, etc.
This is why both employer and employee have a part to play in improving work and home life balance.
Why is it difficult to maintain a good work and home life balance? In the next section, we’ll discuss some techniques to set healthy work-life boundaries.
How to Set Healthy Boundaries to Get Work-Life Balance (Tips for Remote Workers)
How can you achieve work-life balance in today’s competitive work culture? Here are some proven tips:
1. Create a Dedicated Workspace (and Declutter It).
A healthy work-life balance requires discipline. And creating a dedicated workplace ensures that you create a work environment at home. While an office has an atmosphere where everything reminds you of work, things are different at home.
This is because people usually cozy up at home and enjoy leisure time. However, due to the shifting work scenario to remote culture, creating a dedicated workspace at home becomes a must.
Choose a place with good lighting and least distractions. Set up a table and chair and keep all you need to work in one place. Don’t make your desk messy. Declutter it. This will help you focus better as well as enhance your productivity.
For me, a clean, de-cluttered workspace gives me a feeling of relief and I feel like a stress-filled weight has been lifted off my shoulders.
According to research by Harvard Business Review, a clean desk helps you to decrease levels of stress and anxiety and improve your focus and process information better so that you are more productive at work.
As an employer, how can you help your remote team in upgrading their home offices?
At Springworks, we offer perks to our employees to expensive furniture, standing desks, headphones, and the Internet. And we get lots of positive feedback from our employees about how they’ve been managing, how they’ve upgraded their home office, things they’re doing to keep productive.
2. Set Your Routine (and Stick to It)
Naturally, your work-life balance will stand disturbed with the remote culture. This is because you don’t have to move from one place to another, unlike your typical home-to-office and back routine. Creating your routine at home and sticking to the work hours is essential and helps you work efficiently and enjoy your time off work.
33% of remote employees insisted that having set working hours was the most effective way to stay productive.
This would mean ensuring that you resist your urge to watch an episode of your favorite show or catching up on a movie that was released yesterday.
Stick to your schedule and finish your work within the work hours. Wake up early as you do for your office and leave your workspace after office hours.
A survey in April 2020 by Blue Jeans found that remote workers are working an additional 3.13 hours per day while working from home.
You must create a ritual for yourself. For example, I have a morning routine: I wake up at 7:30 AM, do some exercise and yoga, take a shower, make my breakfast, and enjoy my breakfast and tea. And then I jump onto my laptop, check messages and updates in Slack, and start my day.
As an employer, you should encourage your employees to set their working hours and also encourage them to take regular breaks (time-blocking).
One of the best time management techniques which I follow is the Pomodoro Technique.
It’s a popular Time management technique that breaks the day into brief intervals. I use it from time to time and have found it to be very useful.
How this technique works:
Take a large task and break it into smaller chunks. Pick one chunk and work on it for 25 minutes. Take a 5-minute break (this marks the completion of one “Pomodoro” sprint). Repeat. And after four Pomodoro sprints, take a longer break.
3. Have Some “Me Time” (Self-care Is Important)
96 percent of respondents said burnout affected their everyday life. The majority felt pressure to find the “perfect’’ job, work long hours, and always be accessible via Slack or e-mail. Nearly 70 percent agreed that millennials identified themselves only through their jobs.
You must have heard the idiom, “all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” While it might not have made sense earlier, it perfectly applies to the remote work culture.
One of the critical factors responsible for maintaining a work-life balance is sparing some time for yourself. This ensures that your life doesn’t turn monotonous due to lack of experiences such as travel, eating outside, etc.
Take some break from your work and spare this time on self-care and nourish your mind and body. For example, you can do yoga that will help you rejuvenate your mind and body. You can sketch something or read a book. You can also pursue your hobby in your leisure time and light up the creative spark in you.
The most effective way for remote employees to stay productive, according to the Airtasker survey, was to take breaks (37%).
4. Communicate With Your Team and Family (Communication Is the Key)
Friends and family are often neglected because we prioritize our work more than anything else. While this is not a good habit, it also leaves you feeling empty due to a lack of support and affection.
Moreover, this feeling surges when working in a remote environment since you’re physically present right beside your family, but can’t take out any time for them.
Therefore, set boundaries for your work. This includes communicating with your team and family about your work hours. Ask your teammates to call or schedule meetings within the work hours and continue pending work the next day. Use tools like Slack, Trello, and Zoom to communicate with the team or a more advanced project management software for managing projects.
87% of Slack users say it improves their communication and collaboration inside their organization.
Make a point to inform your family members about the same, so that you work in an undisturbed environment. Once your work hours are finished, spend time with your family, and disconnect from official duties.
Let your team know when you’re signing off for the day. A simple Slack status “Not available until tomorrow at 10 AM” can work wonders for setting a boundary.
5. Don’t Lounge Around In Your Pajamas (Put Some Clothes On)
While working from home has its benefits, don’t make being casual a habit. You might feel comfortable in your pajamas all day, but remember that everything has an aura.
When you put on formal clothes, you automatically start thinking that you’re going to do something essential. Meanwhile, in pajamas, it might feel like a day off. Moreover, if you have meetings, make a point to dress professionally to understand its seriousness.
6. Recreate the Watercooler
Watercooler breaks help refresh your mind and catch up for a quick conversation with your colleagues.
Studies show that workplace chatter and no-pressure socializing yield a multitude of benefits, including increased productivity, establishment of trust between employees, and strengthening team building and employee engagement.
But how is this possible in the remote environment?
As Harvard Business School professor Tsedal Neeley explains:
People lose unplanned watercooler or cappuccino conversations with colleagues in remote work. These are actually big and important parts of the workday that have a direct impact on performance.
Schedule 10-15 minutes per day to chat with coworkers about non-work stuff.
You can also try some quick virtual ice-breaker activities and real-time games (via tools like Trivia).
7. Take Your Days Off Seriously (Make Plans for Weekends or After Work Hours)
When working in an on-site office environment, it feels exhilarating to make plans for the weekend. Make sure you have the same spirit for the weekend when it comes to the remote work culture.
Even if you can’t step out of the house and go dancing, organize something at home. Maybe an all-day movie marathon, or some baking classes? Pick whatever you’ve wanted to do and do it for yourself. This will keep your spirits up and your mental health in excellent condition.
8. Say No to Unnecessary Meetings
Meetings can be an insidious waste of time. Virtual meetings are easier to plan and much easier to attend than face-to-face meetings. This often results in over-scheduling of video conferencing and consequent zoom fatigue. Minor meetings may be cancelled or at least live.
One of the advantages of virtual meetings is that they can be saved. If you don’t need your input yet, you need to know some information to send to the meeting, so you can view the recording later and save time by quickly scrolling.
If you can clarify the idea faster in real-time chat, feel free to request a short meeting instead of sending back and forth messages by Slack or email for hours.
9. Work Away from Home
Sometimes, the easiest way to avoid being overworked while working remotely is to work in a completely different room.
For example, suppose you’re the type of person who gets too easily distracted at home or finds it hard to disconnect from work after hours. In that case, you might want to look into a public workspace so that your home and work remain separate, for example, a workspace, a cafe or restaurant, or a friend’s house.
When work and life happen inside the same four walls, it can be helpful to take a break and spend time in a different and fresh environment.
10. Working Longer Than Before? Talk to Your Manager
A new study from Nature Human Behavior found that remote workers spent 10% longer logged in each week. (Source)
It is easy for managers to notice overwork when they see employees arriving early or parking behind their desks at dusk. Detecting warning signs is much more difficult when employees work from home.
If you are not an hourly worker using time tracking software, your driver may not even know you are taking extra hours. If you find that you work late every day or just don’t use your time efficiently, feel free to contact your manager to discuss ways to reduce your workload or develop strategies to keep you more responsible and on track.
How do I find work-life balance?
Creating work-life balance can improve our physical, mental and emotional mental well-being and it is also important to our professional development. In this guide, you can find some ways to create a better work-home life balance.
How can a company help remote employees to achieve work life balance?
Work-life balance involves juggling work stress with the daily pressures of family, friends, and self. Remote employees want greater control over their lives and in the structure of their jobs. In this article, you’ll find some ways to take care of your employees.
What are some tips to manage work/life balance for women?
It has never been easy for women to juggle a thriving career and a happy family life. At home, she has to play the roles of a daughter, wife and a mother depending on what stage of life she is in. We have mentioned some ways (above mentioned) to create healthy work-life boundaries for you.
Working remotely has its benefits and one of the best benefits of remote work is that you have the freedom to manage your time.
Follow the tips in this article and get a healthy work-life balance. By setting strong boundaries, you avoid stress and become more productive.
Did you set work-life boundaries for yourself? How do you balance work and family? Or do you have any questions? Please drop your thoughts in the comments section.
Originally published on August 26, 2020 11:33 AM, updated July 04, 2022