For many, the transition from in-office employee to Homployee represented an opportunity to reset the work-life balance. The schedule flexibility and significantly shortened (not to mention eco-friendly) commute, made the pursuit of a balanced work experience that much more alluring. We are six months into this widespread workplace shift and the data does not seem to support the idea that people, generally, have reached their goal of a more balanced work experience.
Like most people, I find myself checking my work emails earlier in the morning and responding later at night than I did when I was in the office. According to The Washington Post, "The average workday lengthened by 48.5 minutes in the weeks following stay-at-home orders and lockdowns, and the number of meetings increased by 13 percent..."
The importance of setting and respecting boundaries when it comes to your work and your personal life has never been more important. Whether you have experienced it personally or have witnessed a loved one or colleague struggle with setting appropriate boundaries while working, the results almost always seem to lead to feelings of dissatisfaction and disillusionment with the work experience. If you add into the mix the lack of physical distance between the workplace and home, it is not surprising when some people feel less like they are working from home and more like they are living at work.
So, how do we avoid what Forbes' Shane Snow calls The Vicious Cycle of Unhealthy Work Boundaries?
Clearly define your work schedule. As a Homployee, you are not expected to work 24 hours a day, seven days a week (and I will let you in on a little secret, your employer does not expect 24/7 output from you). When you are "at" work, WORK - crush it.
Clearly communicate your work schedule. While that is not to say there will never be times where "off-hours" emails or projects need to be dealt with, do not be afraid to let your boss or colleagues know when you are available and when you are not. Most people appreciate knowing where your boundaries are and will take care not to overstep them.
Lean into your breaks. Nothing will cause you to burn out quicker than always being "on." Fully embrace those moments when you can sit back and exhale. If you can, leave your work space and venture into another space that will allow you to recharge if only for a moment (for me, that usually involves my snack drawer but I digress.)
"Play" like your life depends on it. As simple as it may sound, indulging in things that bring you joy (no matter how inconsequential they may seem to others) can have tremendous effects on your physical health and emotional well-being. If there is a time and place for everything, make time to PLAY.
If you remember nothing else from this post, remember this: The key to being the most successful, productive and engaged Homployee you can be, is to first invest in yourself and nurture your well-being. If you are happy, healthy and generally satisfied with your remote work experience, you will be better engaged "at" work and with your colleagues and more productive during your workday. Be well.