Creating Normality When Working from Home
Working from home…this is by no means a new topic given everything that 2020 threw at us. Over the course of 2020, you would have been bombarded with working from home tips and remote working best practice but already this year, we’ve noticed a renewed struggle as so many of us continue to bunker down in our home offices. Whether it’s an expectation to work longer hours, an inability to disconnect from work at the end of the day or simply missing that daily watercooler chat – there are certainly a few increasingly common complaints from employees and employers alike. Work-life balance (more like home-life balance) is just as important now as it ever was, so as you re-establish routines and set yourself up for the year ahead, now’s the time to create a sense of normality with your work life.
Building Signals into Your Routine
In a BAU world, there are so many natural signals built into day-to-day life (like a morning commute) to help switch your mindset into work mode, and vice versa. However, when there is literally no separation between the two (walking from the kitchen to your computer doesn’t count), changing mindsets is much easier said than done. So, what sort of signals can you incorporate to help you close the laptop and feel ‘done’ at the end of the day? It might be as simple as, the six o’clock news starting, your partner arriving home (or finishing up their workday), a child’s nap – anything to stop you from spending all night in front of the computer!
Addressing Late Night Meetings
A worrying trend to emerge from remote working is late-night meetings, something that can cloud people’s ability to disconnect and carry on with their personal lives in the evening. The reality is, we can’t be ‘on’ all hours of the day and addressing any issues here starts with communication around expectations. A simple solution to defending your turf might be blocking off certain parts of your calendar. An evening run? Yoga classes? Or perhaps looking after your kids? Whatever the responsibility – our lives haven’t stopped and personal boundaries remain just as important as they were in the office.
Keeping the Banter Alive
One final point comes down to non-work-related communication (or lack of it) in a remote working environment. Think about how often it happens in the office. Stopping off at someone’s desk to chat about the football, a bit of banter at the coffee machine and lunchtime yarns – the office is a melting pot of different interactions. So, why would you stop that at home? In fact, social Slack banter should be encouraged among teams on a day-to-day basis. Of course, many of the social interactions in a virtual world have to be planned (be it lunch and learns, celebrations or anything else) but either way, making connections and building relationships across the team are still key when it comes to extended periods of home working.
While creating ‘normality’ is probably a stretch, the chances are that our work from home environment won’t be going away anytime soon, so don’t be too hard on yourself! With that in mind, we need to be doing everything we can to prevent burnout and establish routines that clearly separate our personal and professional lives. How have you found it since coming back this year? We’d love to hear your thoughts!