For some, the idea of working from home might sound like paradise. For others, being cooped up all day might seem like prison. In the face of the coronavirus pandemic, however, millions of us no longer have a choice. Companies around the globe are asking their employees to follow safety protocols and work remotely in order to slow the spread of the disease. Although many people might be able to ease into this new normal without a hitch, others could find it difficult to switch gears.
With the ability to work from home, people can experience a new sense of freedom and comfort that isn’t available or appropriate in an office setting. Now, you have the opportunity to set up your laptop on the couch and cuddle up with a blanket while you work. You can get up and grab a snack from the kitchen any time. You could even stay in pajamas all day and never leave the bedroom.
Even if this sounds like your idea of heaven, you might want to think twice about indulging in these practices. As a professional used to an office environment, the sudden change in atmosphere created by telecommuting can be jarring. The luxuries it provides, while tempting, can be distracting and even detrimental to your productivity. If you don’t set boundaries, you could have trouble separating your work life and personal life.
For instance, you might look up from the keyboard and realize it’s already 11 p.m. Alternatively, you could spend all day ignoring tasks until you are forced to power through that to-do list at the last minute. Neither scenario is good for your company or your mental health.
It’s important to maintain a proper amount of discipline to keep your professional and personal lives separate while working remotely. Here are some ideas to encourage a healthy work-life balance when the office and the living room are the same space.
It’s an incredibly simple piece of advice, but you may not realize how critical it can be. Working in your robe and slippers all day might be comfy at first, but it can have a negative effect on your mindset after a while. When you don’t go through a regular morning routine, you might unconsciously lose the distinction between “home” and “work.” It becomes harder to shift into the mode of thinking you need to be at your most productive. Not to mention your hygiene could start to suffer as well.
Recreate Your Workspace
It’s extremely tempting to sit on the couch with your laptop and kick your feet up on the coffee table. However, most experts agree that it’s best to establish a home office space to ensure you stay focused on your job. Even if it’s just a corner of the kitchen table, creating a specific workspace makes it harder to become distracted. Try to set it up like your desk at the office, with supplies close at hand and calendars or whiteboards to keep organized. If it’s possible, close the door to the room or hide your equipment when you’re off the clock.
Stick to a Schedule
It can be easy to let your work life bleed into your personal or family time when telecommuting. When you don’t have to worry about catching the train or beating traffic, you might find yourself saying you’ll finish “just one more thing” long after you intended. To avoid this, restrict all work-related activities to regular office hours. Otherwise, you run the risk of burning out and straining relationships with friends and loved ones.
Tackle an At-Home Project During Downtime
Especially during times like these, when we are homebound, you may have the opportunity to take on those home projects you have been avoiding. Though not the most obvious solution to work-life balance, having something to occupy your brain off the clock will help keep you from letting work bleed into your personal time. The disassembled coffee table that’s still in its box that you’ve been meaning to build? It’s time to get started. Have a leaky bathroom faucet? Grab the toolbox instead of checking your email after work hours. Focusing on these tasks during free time will keep your mind productive and improve your home environment.
Use Other Communication Tools
While too much connection to your job can be detrimental to your home life, sealing yourself off from colleagues isn’t good either. At the very least, make sure you have access to work email during the workday. Messaging and conferencing applications such as Slack or Skype enable you to stay linked to your teammates as needed.
This can be important not only for keeping everyone on task, but also just for basic camaraderie. Being able to joke around and blow off some steam is an essential part of a strong office culture, and it can help prevent you from feeling alone and isolated.
The current situation is unprecedented, but in time everyone will settle into a new, temporary sense of normalcy. By following this advice, you can make the work-from-home transition much smoother. Whether you’re relishing the opportunity or counting down the days until you can return to the office, it’s helpful to keep the two halves of your life in their own places.
Excited to share her love of home design and décor with readers, Jaclyn Crawford started with ImproveNet in 2016. As a staff writer, she enjoys chronicling the latest trends and ways you can make your home the loveliest it can be. You may also find her in ImproveNet videos, sharing tips and trends for your home.