Achieving a healthy work-life balance while working from home can feel like walking a tightrope, especially given that in the past months, many employees have had to also juggle homeschooling, and caring for young children or elderly relatives. Wellbeing experts warn that an increase in burnout rates is likely as a result of unhealthy boundaries between professional and personal lives. Employers, as well as employees, need to be aware of this threat and create a culture that prioritises the mental and physical wellbeing of everyone.
It starts with boundaries
Promoting healthy boundaries while working from home is something employees need to do for themselves but also something that managers and leaders need to be actively involved with.
Everyone needs to create clear distinctions between “work-mode” and “home-mode” first. Practical measures to take that will help with this, include finding a space in the house that will be only used for work, making sure not to work in pyjamas, and establishing clear working hours. Managers will need to understand that for some employees, working 9 to 5 will no longer be possible and team members will need to learn to respect everyone else’s working hours.
Equally important, employees will need to be active in communicating how long they can (realistically) work for. Clear communication will enable managers and leaders to coordinate the workforce so that overall productivity does not suffer. Have a look here for an in-depth discussion on how employees can work from home, stay productive and not compromise their wellbeing.
Technology is a double-edged sword
As much as technology enables remote working, it can also give people the feeling that they need to be constantly ‘on’, connected to everything that is going on in their workplace, and around the world. Managers and leaders can actively help lower the likelihood of ‘work from home burnout’ by asking team members not to send out emails after 8 pm, reminding employees to have a lunch break away from screens, and providing options for people to socialise over virtual coffees or pizza.
Everyone should consider shutting down the laptop at the end of the working day, as a way to signal to themselves that the working day is over. Turning off social media or email notifications in the evening or at the weekend and limiting screen time before bed can also be methods that help foster a healthy work-life balance.