Remote work has taken the world by storm. Ever since the pandemic started, businesses have turned to a remote work model to keep their employees safe. The great news is that many jobs done from an office can be done just as efficiently from your home - or perhaps even more efficiently.
As great as remote work is, it comes with its own set of challenges. One of the biggest is when and how to turn off since the divide between your home and workplace is now less clear.
With this in mind, it can be really challenging for your employees to maintain a healthy work-life balance in a remote setting. Here are some of our tips to overcome this issue with your employees.
Set Your Hours (And Stick To Them)
At Cloudtalk, we sell to customers all over the globe, like many other SaaS management companies nowadays. That means that customers from Europe may be quiet at 6 PM in our time zone, but there will be plenty of messages coming in from the USA. Then there is every other continent. The work never really stops.
If you’re in a similar situation, prevent yourself from working 12+ hours per day by making sure to set your own hours if your managers don’t do it for you first. 9-5 works fine, just as any other time frame. When you work remotely, most people fear that they will slack off and barely work at all.
In reality, the complete opposite happens.
You may work until 5 PM, but you see a notification coming in at 5:01, and you take it. Then another one comes in at 5:08 and then another one. Before you know it, it’s 6 PM, and you’re still working. And since you’re all alone behind your laptop, there is no one to tell you to turn it off and go home - because you already are home.
The solution is simple - have a strict schedule and stick to it. Self-discipline is key here because you’re the one in charge of your own schedule. When you set aside certain hours, let your team know by showing your availability on Slack or some other communication channel or app.
Break Your Schedule Into Blocks With Meaningful Activities
Some people just can’t work 8 hours in a row. There are obligations, children, parents, errands to run, lunch to make, dogs to walk, etc.
In situations like these, you’ll have two or more parts of your shift with sizeable breaks in between them - say an hour or so. Use these breaks to do something meaningful such as getting your groceries, taking a walk, doing some exercise, preparing a meal, or something along those lines.
Since you’re not in the office, you don’t have to waste a good break by sitting and browsing Instagram or looking through your Amazon wish list. And since some employees have to talk to a lot of people and may experience ‘Zoom fatigue’, taking a break to unwind and be with yourself is a good way to get some mental rest.
Ever since the majority of the workforce switched to working remotely, our physical fitness has been suffering. You can use exercise and training to fill the gaps in between your work sessions so you can get your heart rate up and become healthier both physically and mentally.
And if you think you need a gym to work out at home - think again. There are plenty of ways to exercise at home or activities to choose from, such as joining an online yoga class, jumping rope, doing bodyweight training and more. You can also grab a set of weights and have your own gym from the comfort of your own home.
Have a ritual
Before you go into the office every morning, you probably have a number of things you do. Prepare lunch, get dressed, make plans for the day ahead, grab your coffee, say hi to your coworkers, and so on. As small and meaningless as these things may seem, they make work feel like work. They give us a routine that mentally prepares us to get into ‘work-mode’.
One of the biggest issues with remote work is that the barrier between your personal life and your work life gets really blurred. Since you work, rest, eat and sleep in the same place, it’s really hard for your body to discern what constitutes work.
As a consequence, you never really know when work officially starts. We talked about ending your work day a few paragraphs ago, but the start is where you should also make a clear cutoff line.
From personal experience, one of the worst things that you can do is to just wake up and grab your laptop and go at it. This leaves you no personal time for yourself and your day starts immediately.
Instead, give yourself some buffer room. Get dressed for work, grab some coffee, make your breakfast, catch up with the news, go for a brisk walk. This is now your new structure. These are the things you do before work. If you just wake up and get to work, your work/life balance will have significantly more of the work part.
One thing that you’ll see many remote work gurus stressing is that you should never, ever work from bed. Mentally, you’ll still be in a state when you’re resting, and it will kill your productivity. But from a more practical standpoint, it’s just not convenient taking calls from bed. And if you happen to get a video call from a customer or your boss, it’s not an ideal situation.
Grab some lunch
Without intermissions, remote work can feel like a solid block of 8 hours of just work. As a result, you’ll start getting worn out sooner than you normally would. Your work will suffer, and inevitably, your relationship with your customers will worsen as well.
As much as some (poor) managers scoff at breaks, water cooler moments, and lazy moments of distraction, these are necessary elements to make work feel more engaging. (if you have a manager like this, read this.)
If you take one thing from this article, remember this: always take a lunch break, even if it means doing it by yourself. Set aside time to grab something to eat and do it as far away from your work device as possible.
Remote work has so many benefits, but it can be easy to fall out of a healthy work/life balance. Following the tips outlined in this article can set you straight.